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How to Decide Whether to Send Your Sick Child to Preschool

How to Decide Whether to Send Your Sick Child to Preschool

It's every mom's nightmare: waking up in the morning (or the wee hours of the morning) to hear your child cry "Mommy, my throat hurts." Is it okay, as Circle of Moms member Ester D. wonders, "to send your kids to school when they have a cold or [are] just a little less than one hundred percent healthy," or should parents keep their preschoolers home "at the first sign of a runny nose" to prevent the spread of germs to other kids?

With minor sniffles and coughs so frequently besetting little kids, this difficult dilemma comes up often for parents. Some Circle of Mom members, including Lynn, are exasperated by parents who persist in sending their sick kids to school, where they spread their colds to others. "I am so tired of my children being sick for two weeks, being healthy for a week, and then being sick for two weeks, then healthy again."

But for working moms, the question is fraught. Circle of Moms member Ester D. points out that even though it's not a big deal at this age for a child to miss a day of school, it's difficult for a working mom to miss work to stay at home with the child. "My son goes if he has a cold. I'm a working mom and if I had kept him home every time he had a runny nose he would have been home the entire first year of his life. Unfortunately I just don't have those kinds of vacation days. If my son spreads his germs to other kids, I'm sorry about that, but that's life."


When It's Okay to Send Your Sick Child to School

Sarah M. is another mom who feels like she's frequently making these tough calls. "If my girls have vomited, they are kept out of school for 48 hours. But colds are different. They go to school if they have a cold. You just can't keep yourself or [your] kids out for every little sniffle."

But just how sick does your child have to be before you keep her home? Even Liz S., who is both a mom and a daycare teacher, isn't quite sure where to draw the line. She asks, "Do you allow kids with faucet-like runny noses to be in care? Fever? Coughing? "

"It's a tough call," say Amie T. She draws the line at fevers and persistent coughs: "It depends on what it is and the season. Runny noses are pretty common in kids, could be allergies, just the weather changing or a kid could just be prone to runny noses. No big deal. If they are coughing, have a fever, or other signs of something more serious, and then keep them home. My kids are generally healthy, always have been. I have always kept them home when they're ill. They are my responsibility to take care of, so I take care of them."

For many moms, the deciding factor is the presence of a fever. "If there is no fever, and the child seems pretty healthy, it's okay to send her off to school," says Erin L. "When my son was in daycare I swear he had a runny nose every day. He was never really sick, just had a runny nose, so maybe an allergy problem? He went to daycare and preschool."

Louise G. says moms should trust their parental intuition: "Kids are sick for so many reasons: overeating, too much jumping about after food, and of course illness. You are the best judge of how your child is. If [she] appears well I send my child to preschool. If I am in doubt I keep her at home." And when a child seems seriously ill, most Circle of Moms members agree that the question is easy to settle. "When my daughter is sick with an actual medical condition or fever I keep her at home," says Jess L. "Sometimes you just need to be at home in your own bed with your mommy."

Do you ever send your sick kid to preschool?

Image Source: Ben and Laura via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
LisaTanguay LisaTanguay 5 years
This is such a loaded topic. If I kept my daughter home with every cough, sneeze and runny nose, my husband and I would both be out of jobs and living off welfare. My daughter has allergies that sometimes turn into a cold if she is exposed to others with one. We keep the same standards for her going to pre-school and daycare that the schools and state licensing keep, or if she is just feeling yucky. I work in a school setting and see so many parents send their kids to school sick. If your child has thrown up at home, then they need to stay home. I can't tell you how many parents have sent kids to the before school program after saying "they threw up once this morning, but have been fine since". There is a line to draw for sick kids in school and that is by following the state standards that have been given to schools and daycare centers. If you child has one of the things going on that is on the list then they stay home. Here in NH if a child misses school for more than 5 days without a doctor's note, the family is investigated for truancy. If they are out for 10 or more days, a call goes to the state child welfare agency. So keeping a child out for a runny nose that is clear and an allergy cough is not an option. I understand that there are children out there with weak immune systems but when a chid goes to school sick, they have probaly already infected everyone around them, since a kid can be spreading germs with no symptoms. If your child has a weak immune system, maybe you should be looking into other options for when they are in school and around town. Face masks, hand sanitizers, and the list goes on. If they are really in that much danger, then they don't belong in a public school. Using the argument about peanut allergies, just isn't the same as germs. Nuts can be controlled. You can't control bateria and viruses they do their own thing without us knowing it.
KimberlyByrd17837 KimberlyByrd17837 5 years
I am not allowed to send my daughter to preschool because of the moms that send their kids to preschool sick. She has a weak immune system so she has to suffer by not have the interaction with the other kids and the learning environment that they could provide because of all the health risks. I keep my kids home when they first start to show signs of being sick as to save another mom the heartache of a sick kid if their kids is like mine. My daughters gets sick she is allergic to most antibiotics and may need a hospital stay for something other parents see as NO BIG DEAL
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