When should you keep your child home from school?

Some parents and caregivers are asked, “Can I stay home from school?” by children on a daily basis, but knowing what’s best in each case takes knowing the child, their symptoms and the situation. Dr. Tina Ardon, a Mayo Clinic family medicine physician, explains some of things to consider before sending your child to school or keeping them home.

Whether physically apparent:

“A fever is always a reason to keep your child home. Symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea are certainly reasons to keep your children home,” says Dr. Ardon.

Or more subtle signs:

“I also ask parents and families just to think about their child and how they’re behaving. We don’t want to send our kids to school either, if they’re just not going to be able to participate fully,” she says.

For some children, symptoms, like headaches or stomachaches, may not be something that they need to see a doctor for on an immediate basis, but could indicate something else, like anxiety.

“Parents and families are always encouraged to keep an eye on the overall picture with their kids so that we can determine if there’s a larger issue at play with those symptoms,” she says.

Dr. Ardon says err on the side of caution. If your child isn’t feeling well, try to find the root cause before sending him or her off to school.

“Be thoughtful for the families and the kids around us. So it does help our kids stay healthier overall in the school year, if we’re being thoughtful about keeping our children home until they’re better to help reduce the spread of infectious disease,” she says.