Many respiratory illnesses circulating
This health department guide can help parents decide when a child should stay home when not feeling well
As we continue to receive reports of respiratory illnesses to schools and childcare centers, we want to ensure parents and guardians know when to keep children home. Our local Barry Eaton Health Department has drafted this communication to help parents make the decisions of when a child should stay home when not feeling well. While attendance is very important, we also want to make sure that our staff and students can stay healthy at school, and there are times that children should remain at home, so as not to increase the number of people being ill.
Per BEDHD, many illnesses do not require exclusion. However, children should stay home if the illness prevents the child from participating comfortably in school activities or if there is risk of spreading harmful disease to others. Below are some reasons why a child should stay home.
- Severe Illness: This may include symptoms such as being very tired or less responsive, having difficulty breathing, or having a rapidly spreading rash.
- Fever: A child with a temperature of 101°F or greater AND behavior changes or other signs or symptoms (such as sore throat, rash, vomiting, or diarrhea). Note: If there is influenza-like-activity or COVID-19-like-activity in the school or in the community, criteria would also include a temperature over 100.4°F and respiratory symptoms (such as cough, sore throat).
- Diarrhea: A child has two loose or watery stools within 24 hours. Exception: A healthcare provider has determined it is not infectious. Diarrhea may be caused by antibiotics or new foods a child has eaten.
- Vomiting: A child that has vomited two or more times within 24 hours. Exception: A healthcare provider has determined it is not infectious.
- Abdominal pain: A child with abdominal pain that continues for more than two hours, or intermittent pain associated with fever or other symptoms.
- Rash: A child with a rash AND has a fever or a change in behavior. Note: Rapidly spreading bruising or small blood spots under the skin need immediate medical attention.
- Skin sores: A child with sores leaking fluid on an exposed area of skin that cannot be covered completely with a waterproof dressing.
- Certain communicable diseases: Children and staff diagnosed with certain communicable diseases, including COVID-19, may have to be excluded for a period of time.
In most cases, children can return when the following are met.
- Children with a fever and other signs or symptoms as described above should not return until 24 hours of no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Children with diarrhea should have no loose stools for 24 hours prior to returning to school.
- Children with vomiting should have no vomiting episodes for 24 hours prior to returning.
- Children with rash that presented with a fever should be excluded until the rash subsides and 24 hours of no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, or until a healthcare provider has determined it is not infectious. Exceptions: Allergic rash, such as hives or poison ivy, and diaper rash are not reasons to keep a child home.
For more information on exclusions and when children can return. see the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations here and contact your local health department.
Teach your family how to lower their risk of getting and spreading illnesses by:
- Washing their hands often with soap and running warm water for at least 20 seconds. That is the same amount of time as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Make sure to also clean under the fingernails.
- If a sink or hand washing station is not available, use hand sanitizer properly. Gels, rubs, and hand wipes work well against most germs if they contain at least 60% alcohol. Throw wipes in the trash after use.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue if possible, or their upper shirt sleeve or elbow—not onto their hands!
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth. That’s how many types of germs enter the body and also how germs can be spread.
- Avoid close contact with others, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices.
- Stay up-to-date on your COVID vaccines and annual influenza vaccine as well as all other recommended vaccinations to decrease the risk of contracting vaccine preventable illnesses and their potentially serious complications.
Thank you for reading this communication from our local Health Department, and stay well this season!
Go Orioles! Oriole Pride!
Dr. Mandy Stewart,