You get a call halfway through your day that your child is ill and needs to be picked up from school. How long should they stay home before returning to the classroom? Consider these guidelines on when to keep a child home:

  • If your child is running a fever, they should be kept home from school. A good rule of thumb is that a child should not return to school until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without medication.
  • If your child seems too sluggish and lethargic to pay attention in school, odds are they probably aren’t able to learn much in class and should be kept home.
  • If your child is experiencing a loud cough, frequent trips to the restroom, or any other symptoms that may be disruptive to both your child’s learning and their classmates, they should be kept home until symptoms subside.
  • If your child is contagious with an illness such as pink eye, they should be kept home until a doctor approves returning to school.

In addition, review the following recommendations on when to take your child to an urgent care facility versus the hospital.

Your child should see a physician at an urgent care facility if they have:

  • A possible bone fracture
  • A persistent cough
  • Cuts or scrapes that may need medical attention
  • Ear or sinus pain
  • A fever, cold, or the flu
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Mild to moderate asthma attacks
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • A rash
  • A sore throat
  • A sprain or strain

If your child has a more serious or life-threatening condition, they should be taken to the emergency room immediately. Reasons may include:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden or unexplained loss of consciousness
  • Wound that will not stop bleeding
  • Major injury
  • Stroke
  • Chest pain; numbness in the face, arm, or leg; or difficulty speaking
  • High fever with a stiff neck, mental confusion, or difficulty breathing
  • Severe shortness of breath

If your child is not feeling well, you can bring them to be evaluated at any Patient First center from 8 a.m. to 8p.m., 365 days a year – no appointment necessary. To find a center near you, please visit our locations page.


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