Nurses Weigh In: When Is It OK to Send a Sick Kid to School

A parent’s guide to sick days
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Nurses Weigh In: When Is It OK to Send a Sick Kid to School

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“Mom, Dad… Can I stay home from school today?” Every parent is all too familiar with those words, asked sheepishly by a child who sometimes is legitimately sick — and who sometimes is just hoping for a day off from school.

But how is a parent to tell when their child is pulling their leg? And how is a parent to tell when a child is actually sick enough to miss an entire day of class?

There are all kinds of reasons a kid would try to fudge an excuse to stay home. Maybe they forgot to finish their homework or there’s a big test they’re hoping to miss. Maybe they feel like watching TV all day instead of sitting in a classroom and listening to their teachers drone. As a parent, you know those are distinct possibilities. But you also would feel really guilty if your child really was sick and you sent them to school anyway.

Some symptoms are OK to power through. A slight stomachache, for instance, is probably fine to overlook. But where is the line drawn between a small symptom and one that might be serious? We asked three nurses what they thought were good rules of thumb for parents to make these types of judgment calls. Nurses see young patients nearly every day and are all too familiar with the typical ailments that children typically face.

Here’s the advice these nurses want parents to know.