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Guidelines for keeping children home from school due to illness

Stay Home During Illness

When and How Long to Keep Your Child Home From School?  

The timing of the absence is important to decrease the spread of illness to others, and to prevent your child from acquiring other illnesses while his/her resistance is lowered.


  • COMMON COLD - Symptoms include irritated throat, watery discharge from the nose & eyes, sneezing, chills, and general body discomfort. Your child should stay home if symptoms interfere with their ability to learn. If your child is attending school with a cold, please remind him/her to either cough into his/her sleeve or cover his/her nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Be sure to remind your child to wash his/her hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • FEVER - If your child's temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or greater, he/she should remain home until fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
  • FLU - The symptoms of flu usually start suddenly & may include the following: fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny nose & body aches. Diarrhea and vomiting are also commonly seen in children. Please see guidelines for fever and diarrhea and vomiting.
  • PINK EYE - Symptoms of pink eye include redness & swelling of the membranes of the eye with burning or itching, tearing, & crustiness on the eyelids (especially noticeable upon awakening). Children who are diagnosed with bacterial conjunctivitis must be on antibiotic ophthalmic therapy for 24 hours before returning to school and be free of discharge.  
  • STREP THROAT - Your child should remain home from school until he/she has received 24 hours of antibiotic therapy. Most physicians would advise resting at home for 1-2 days after strep infection.
  • SKIN RASH - A physician should evaluate skin rashes of unknown origin before your child is sent to school. A note from the physician is required stating that your child is not contagious and is able to return to school.
  • DIARRHEA AND VOMITING - If your child experiences vomiting and diarrhea during the night, he/she should not be sent to school the following day. Children should return to school when their appetite returns to normal. 
  • MEDICATIONS - If your child has been prescribed medication that must be given during the school day, the physician must write an order/script for the medication to be given in school. Nurses in Pennsylvania may not administer any medication (prescribed or over the counter) without a medical order. Please see the Permission to Medicate form.