Is it safe to send children to school with cold symptoms?

Ask the Experts by Nancy Ajemian, M.D.

Q: If my children have a high fever, but no other symptoms. Should I still send them to school?

A: If a child has had a fever within the last 24 hours, he/she should stay home from school. Fevers are an indication that the body is fighting some type of illness, so it is important to allow your child time to rest until the fever has subsided. Once the fever has passed and your child feels well enough to return to school, you do not need to keep him/her home.

Q: I kept my daughter home from school today because she has a cough and runny nose. I took her temperature, but she doesn't have a fever. Is it safe to send her to school tomorrow?

A: Without a fever, your child can go to school with these symptoms, as long as she is feeling well enough to participate in regular activities. Many conditions, such as the common cold, do not necessarily require keeping your child home from school. However, if the condition seems potentially contagious, it is best to have your child remain home to prevent infecting other children. Contacting your primary care physician may also help you determine the appropriate measures to take in this situation.

Q: I have two children. If one of them is vomiting and has flu-like symptoms, as a precaution, should I keep both of them home from school?

A: No. It is not necessary to keep both children home in this situation. If only one of your children is experiencing these symptoms, keep that child home from school. If your other child is showing no signs of illness, there is no reason to keep him/her home. However, because the illness may potentially be contagious, it is important to monitor the conditions of both children.

Q: Kids pass infections to each other easily, what are some precautions I can take to minimize the chances of my child getting ill?

A: First, support a well-enforced school policy of not allowing sick children to attend. Teach your child to wash their hands, and remind them to do so between activities and before eating throughout the day. You can also take steps to keep your child's immune system as strong as possible to help fight off infection by offering a variety of good foods. Getting enough rest and exercise every day is also important, along with getting all the recommended immunizations on the appropriate schedule to help prevent serious infections.

Nancy Ajemian, M.D., is a family medicine physician at Beaumont Hospital -- Grosse Pointe and can be reached at 313-640-2424. Beaumont Hospital -- Grosse Pointe is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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