Too Sick for School? - Joy Through Chaos

Too Sick for School?

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image of little girl coughing

Kids get sick. A lot. If you have ever questioned your judgment and wondered if your kid is too sick for school, you’re in the right place. There are so many different illnesses; it’s hard to know precisely when your kid is too sick for school and when it’s ok to send them out the door with the sniffles.

As a working parent, this was always really hard for me. I didn’t earn a ton of paid time off, so anytime M was too sick for school, and I needed to stay home, it was a big hit. Even now as a stay at home parent, M goes to preschool a few hours a day, and I cherish those few hours we’re apart. It’s a tough call no matter what situation you’re in.

These are my guidelines for deciding if my kid is too sick for school:

Is your kid too sick for school?


Anything over 100.4 is considered a fever. Kids shouldn’t return to school until the fever has been gone for 24 hours. I’m serious. I don’t play around with this one. Kids get random fevers all the time, but here’s the thing, generally fevers mean their little bodies are fighting something gross that has the potential to get passed to someone else. If your kid has a fever, keep them home and treat their fever.


Rashes take a little bit of sleuthing. The rash could be bug bites eczema, or a slight skin irritation. If that’s the case, dope them up on Benedryl and send them to school. But, if you can’t figure out the cause of rash and it looks really strange, gross, or is pussy, your kid is too sick for school. Keep them home. Certain skin infections are incredibly contagious and need medication to treat.


Kids can have isolated puke events. Like, they can eat something their tummy didn’t like, puke once, and be fine. If that’s the case, and they don’t have a fever, send them to school. On the other hand, if they’ve had a fever or if the vomiting continues for quite a while you need to wait until 24 hours until the last episode to send them back to school.

Don’t be that person that spreads the puke bug throughout the entire school because you sent your kid to school while they were contagious.


Generally, diarrhea does not make your kid too sick for school; but it can make for some messy situations. Catch my drift?

My rule is simple: if my kid can go a few hours without running to the bathroom, she can go to school. Loose stool is not a reason to keep your kids home from school unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms (like fever, vomiting, etc.). If your kid does need to stay home until the diarrhea is controlled, try these tricks to stop diarrhea fast.

Ever wondered if your kid is too sick for school? What you need to know to decide when your kid can go to school and when they're too sick for school.

Sore Throat

Take a look down their throat. Do you see any white patches? If not, you’re in the clear to send them to school as long as your kiddo feels up to it. If you do see white patches, time to head into the pediatrician for a strep test.



Ok, seriously, if you send them to school and you didn’t know they had lice, don’t worry about it. It’s ok. No one is going to send you hate mail.

Now, if you know your kid has lice, please do not send them back to school until they’ve completed their treatment and they’re 100% nit free.

Pink Eye

Pink eye is super contagious. If your kid’s eye is crusty, goopy, and red, KEEP THEM HOME and go to the doctor. You’ll likely need some medication to clear up the eye nasties. You’re in the clear to send them back to school after they’ve been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours and they’ve been cleared by their doctor.

‘My leg hurts.’

Or insert ‘my _____ hurts’ when said in a whiny voice that you’re not prepared for at zero dark thirty when you haven’t been appropriately caffeinated.

Unless it’s broken or severely sprained, scoot them right on out the door. Growing pains are common in kids, and they’re usually no cause for concern. Same with random pains here and there- they’re part of life and do not make your kid too sick for school.

If your kid has been complaining for a few days, it might be time to make an appointment with the pediatrician to be safe. You might also want to read up on the symptoms of broken bones, just to be safe.

Coughs and Colds

If there’s no fever, it depends on how your kid is feeling. Trust your gut on this one. You know your child.


Knowing when your kid is too sick for school is a tough call. There are a LOT more injuries and illnesses than this, and for those, you might want to see your doctor. While you’re there make sure to ask them when they think your child should return to school.

Until Next time! Chrissie

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