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Is my child too sick for school? How to know

It’s not too hard to imagine that after dinner one night, your child just looks under the weather. You take her temperature and you see that it’s around 101 degrees. You have her drink some warm water with lemon and send her to bed early to get some sleep. When she wakes up in the morning, she’s still got a mild fever, 99.5, but she is acting normally – eating breakfast, doing her normal morning routine.

You suspect she’s fine but you’re still not sure if you are putting others at risk. Sometimes it’s easy to know whether to keep your child at home and take her to an urgent care center, but sometimes it’s not so cut-and-dried. Here’s a few tips to help you decide.


Send her:

If your child is over 4 months old, has a temperature of less than 101, isn’t having problems drinking fluids and says she feels pretty good, you should send her to preschool or school.

Don’t send her:

If your baby is younger than 4 months old and has any fever at all (above 98.6 degrees), bring her to our urgent care center Spring Hill to have her checked. For such young children, any fever indicates an infection; not only will she be considered contagious, she will won’t feel good participating in that day’s activities. Keep her home until she is fever-free for at least 24 hours.


Send her:

One trip to the bathroom is surprisingly not much to worry about for kids. It usually indicates either a bad reaction to something they ate or choking on something – not that they are sick with the flu or other infection.

Don’t send her:

If there have been two trips to the bathroom to vomit within 24 hours, keep her home. You shouldn’t feel the need to bring her to the urgent care center right away.  If she shows any signs of dehydration (including peeing less than usual, not producing tears when crying or isn’t producing spit), then start by trying to give her small sips of water or other liquid frequently. If it continuously causes vomiting, or if the vomiting hasn’t subsided after a couple of days, visit a doctor.


Send her:

If the stools are only a little loose and she’s acting normally, you can feel safe sending her to school.

Don’t send her:

If she has diarrhea more than 3 times a day or they are so water that the diaper will overflow, keep them home. This is usually the sign of a contagious infection. Keep an eye out for dehydration and visit an urgent care center Spring Hill if you notice blood or mucus in the stool.

Sore throat

Send her:

This is one of the trickiest to judge. You don’t want your child to be so distracted by an aching throat that they can’t focus at school, but usually sore throats are just the effect of post-nasal drip. Send her if there’s no fever.

Don’t send her:

Sore throat plus fever is a different story. If your child has additional symptoms like swollen glands, a fever, a headache or stomachache, don’t let her go to school; bring her to our urgent care center. These symptoms are often associated with strep throat, which requires antibiotics before a return to school.


Send her:

Again, if this is the only symptom and it’s not accompanied by vomiting, your child should be OK at school.

Don’t send her:

Stomachache plus is cause for concern, i.e. stomachache plus vomiting, diarrhea, or fever as well as lethargy. This can signal gastroenteritis, although sharp pain can also be a sign of constipation. If you suspect that your child has gastroenteritis, make sure she drinks water – but hold off on visiting the doctor until after a few days. If you suspect constipation, stop in and we can check her out.


Send her:

Runny noses are minimal cause for concern, and a minor cough shouldn’t send you into fits of worry. If that’s all your child has, send her to school.

Don’t send her:

A hacking cough or a phlegmy one are both reasons to keep your child home from school. Wheezing, fever and lethargy are also causes for concern. If the cold persists more than 3 days and over-the-counter treatments aren’t helping, stop into our urgent care center Spring Hill to see if it’s something more serious. We don’t prescribe antibiotics for colds, but we do want to make sure your child’s cold hasn’t morphed into pneumonia or bronchitis.

You really don’t know?

If you really aren’t sure about the severity of your child’s symptoms, we’re here for you. Call us or pop in before you make the decision. We are here to help.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.