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How Sick Is Too Sick? When To Keep Your Child Home From School

It can be challenging to make that early morning call about whether your child is too sick to go to school or daycare. It’s a lot of pressure too! What if you make the wrong call?

Come 10am and your kid could be running about, happy as Larry, and you’ve both wasted a whole day. Or you get the dreaded phone call at work to come and pick up your clearly ill child and feel like a rotten parent.

And that’s before they’re old enough to try and pull a swifty and bung it on à la Ferris Bueller!

So how sick is too sick? Let’s try and break this down to help make that judgement call.

Here are some very good reasons to keep your child at home for the day:

  • they have a temperature of 38°C or higher
  • they have vomited overnight
  • they have diarrhoea
  • they could potentially have Covid
  • they have a red, irritated sore throat
  • they have symptoms of conjunctivitis or pink eye
  • they have a severe headache
  • they have ear pain
  • they have a seriously snotty, runny nose

One of the most common scenarios where parents send their child to school or daycare is when their child has a common cold.

While things have obviously changed drastically over the last two years due to the pandemic, children can still attend school or daycare if they have slight symptoms of a common cold.

Parents often opt to send their children to school with a cold because they are infected with them so often that it can be impractical to keep them home every time they develop so much as a sniffle.

It all comes down to parental judgment. If it’s a severe cold, keep them at home. If your child has a slight cough and a runny nose that a little packet of tissues and some lozenges can handle, they might be good to go.

You know your child better than anyone, so trust your instincts. And don’t hesitate to consult your family GP if you need to.



Jill is a busy wife and mother of four young children. She loves nothing more than making people giggle, and loves to settle in with a glass of wine (or four) and wander about the internet. Feel free to follow her to see all the cool stuff she finds!

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