Can We All Please Stop Sending Our Sick Kids to School?

Dear Parents Who Send Their Sick Kids to School,

I'm going to get right to it — please, please stop.

And before you say that I don't understand what it's like, know that I absolutely do. I have two young kids who constantly bring germs home with them from school, the park, and wherever else they can touch their little hands. I know that having a sick child sucks. You have to take time off work or find a willing babysitter (both of which can be incredibly difficult and sometimes impossible), risk getting sick yourself by tending to your child's cough and runny nose, and constantly clean the house and wipe down surfaces to try to prevent the rest of the family from getting infected. And a lot of the time this lasts for days. It's not fun, it's not easy, and it can seriously disrupt your family's life. I get it.

But just because your child isn't vomiting doesn't mean they aren't very sick, and sending them to school with a cold, fever, or upset stomach isn't fair to their teacher, the rest of their class, and all of us fellow parents. Sure, kids fib about feeling sick sometimes to get out of going to school, but chances are you can spot such a lie immediately and get on with your day. But even if they're just coughing and sneezing and not giving you visible evidence of the flu in the form of projectile vomit that only kids can create, it doesn't mean you should write their symptoms off as no big deal and send them on their way. Please, keep them home. If you make them go to school anyway, they'll only infect everyone else.

Think of the other children in your child's class. There is likely a kid with a more sensitive immune system or condition that could be devastating for that child if they catch what your child has. How do I know? Because that used to be my kid. When another parent made their child go to school with a cold, my son caught it, it settled into his lungs, and it turned into pneumonia. Simple cold and flu symptoms don't mean the same for every child, and it's vital that all of us parents remember this.

Am I saying you should keep your child home if you hear them sneeze a few times? Of course not. You know your child best and you know when they're sick. Keeping them home for every cough you hear isn't realistic, and no parent wants their child to miss a lot of school. All I'm asking is to err on the side of caution, especially during the cold and flu season.

We all know how much even small colds can wipe our children out and drain all their energy, so if they go to school and push themselves, it could only make things worse. It could also make their illness last longer, which nobody ever wants. So, the next time your child is feeling under the weather, please keep them home and let them rest and recuperate. Their entire class, and all of those kids' parents, would desperately appreciate it.

A Fellow Parent