WHEN SHOULD I KEEP MY CHILD HOME?
A parent’s decision to keep a child home from school when he or she is sick can sometimes be a difficult one. No parent wants to interrupt their child’s learning, and for some, keeping a child home means missing work or losing pay. However, if a child has a serious illness such as influenza, it’s important for the child to stay home from school and rest. By taking this step, parents can help their children get better faster as well as prevent the spread of illness to others.
Students must stay home if they have the following:
- A severe rash or skin condition that is undiagnosed. “Severe” indicates that the rash is over 1/3 of the body and is not indicative of poison ivy. Poison ivy, while uncomfortable, is not contagious and your child may attend school.
- A temperature of 100.0 F or above for 24 hours. Your child may return to school once he/she is fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication. A good rule of thumb is that if a child goes to bed or wakes up with a temperature, they should not attend school that day or the next. If a child is sent home during the day with a temperature, they should stay home the following day.
- Vomiting or diarrhea that occurs together or more than once in 4 hours or is excessive is the sign of an infection (either viral or bacterial). Most viruses only last 24 to 48 hours and leave as quickly as they arrived. Bacterial illnesses last longer, may produce blood or mucous in fluids, and are more severe in discomfort. Your child will need to see the pediatrician if vomiting or diarrhea persist in severity for more than 1-2 days.
- Inflamed eyes (both) with yellow or green drainage could indicate conjunctivitis which is contagious and needs to be seen by the pediatrician. Conjunctivitis is either viral or bacterial and needs to be determined before treatment. Red eyes with clear or no drainage are probably caused by an allergen and can be treated with an over-the-counter eye allergy remedy.
- Bacterial infections like Strep throat and bacterial pneumonia need antibiotic treatment. Once your child has had at least two doses and is feeling well enough and fever free, they may return to school.
- With many respiratory illnesses, a cough can linger for up to three weeks or longer. If your child has no other symptoms but a persistent non-productive cough, they should return to school.
Please be sure to call the attendance line before 9:30 in the morning to report your child absent. It is available 24 hours so you can call as soon as you know your child will not be attending school. It is also important that you state the nature of your child’s illness (fever, headache, etc), or nature of business (appointments or family matters) and to report any communicable diseases such as Chicken Pox or the Flu to the nurse so that it can be tracked closely.
HEALTH SCREENINGS AT THE PAGE SCHOOL
Every year the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) requires the school nurse to provide certain health screenings for students. These screenings are not definitive diagnostic tests; however, they are meant to supplement your physician’s routine physical examinations. The annual school nurse screenings at the Page include evaluation of vision for all students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. Evaluation of hearing is done for all students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Postural screening for scoliosis is done in all students in 5th and 6th grade. Recent changes to the growth screenings for height and weight require that all students in 1st grade also be measured and their Body Mass Index (BMI) be calculated.
A Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a measure that is used to show a person’s “weight for height for age.” It is calculated using an individual’s height and weight. Just like a vision screening test, a BMI can be a useful tool in identifying possible health risks.
The purpose of the BMI Screening Program is to give you information about your child’s weight status and ideas for living a healthy life. In the Pentucket Regional School District, we address our student’s health and wellness with a comprehensive approach that includes health screenings, physical activity programs, nutrition and health education.
The school nurse will supervise your child’s screening and will make sure your child’s privacy is respected at all times. The results of your child’s health screenings are strictly confidential – the results will be kept in your child’s school health record. You will be notified of your child’s results from the BMI screening, and we encourage you to share this information with your child’s health care provider. Your child’s doctor is in the best position to evaluate his or her overall health and can explain the results of his or her BMI screening. You will also be notified if your child did not pass the vision, hearing or postural screenings.
The purpose of these screening programs is to give you information about your child’s health and well being. The Pentucket Regional School district is dedicated to making sure that children are healthy and ready to learn.
Please contact me if you do not want your child to participate in these Health Screenings or if you have any questions about the Health Screening Program.
DON'T GET SIDELINED BY THE FLU
With flu season at it’s height during the school year, it is important that we work together to keep our children healthy. Viruses spread easily among children in schools, and families with school-age children have more infections than others. By keeping our children flu-free, we benefit the community as a whole. You can help prevent the spread of flu and help your child get better if he/she does get sick by following a few simple steps:
- If possible, you and your child should get a flu vaccine before flu season officially starts (by the end of October according to the CDC).
- Remind your child to cover his/her nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and dispose of the tissue immediately.
- Have your child wash his/her hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and shared items at least once a day.
- Ensure that bathrooms are stocked with soap, hand towels and tissues.
- Teach your child not to touch his/her mouth, nose and eyes.
- If a child is sick and has a fever, keep them at home to prevent the spread of illness to others. Your child may return to school once he/she is fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication.
If you are concerned about your child’s flu symptoms, call your doctor early. Call your doctor immediately if your child has a chronic illness. Common symptoms of flu include high fever, chills, severe headache, muscle and body aches, exhaustion, and dry cough. Additionally, children often exhibit other flu symptoms that are rare in adults, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and may become dehydrated quickly. Some children might benefit from an antiviral medication, which can be prescribed by a physician and can help lessen the duration of the virus and reduce the risk of complications. To be effective, antiviral medication should be taken within 12-48 hours after flu symptoms begin.
Additionally, antiviral medication may be administered to children under a doctor’s care as a preventative measure to help them avoid catching the flu from others in special situations.
- Children who have egg allergies and therefore cannot receive the flu vaccine.
- Children who have been vaccinated, but are at high risk for serious complications due to a chronic condition.
- Children who may not have received a vaccine but are exposed to the flu.
If you have any questions or would like additional information about preventing and treating the flu, please contact the me at 978-363-2672 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find important information about the influenza virus at http://www.cdc.gov/FLU.