For two years, the pandemic put illnesses like the flu and RSV out of parents’ minds because they did not have significant outbreaks during the winter seasons. There are a few reasons for that, including the fact that COVID precautions like mask wearing and social distancing also helped to reduce the spread of other viral respiratory illnesses. As COVID precautions have relaxed, the U.S. has seen a surge in all types of respiratory illnesses, including influenza and RSV, along with coronavirus. Therefore, your child is likely to get sick at least once this winter, leaving you to wonder when you should keep them home from school.

Consider School Guidelines

Because respiratory illnesses are so prevalent right now, many school districts have increased their communication with parents and outlined guidelines on when to keep kids home. Ideally, children wouldn’t go to school if they have any symptoms of respiratory illnesses. However, it can also be difficult to find childcare on workdays and balance the number of sick days your child takes to ensure they’re keeping up in the classroom. Every school district will have unique guidelines, but they may include the following.

  • Don’t send your child to school with a fever. If your child is getting over a virus, they may have lingering symptoms like a cough or runny nose, but they may no longer be contagious and feel well enough to engage in learning. Checking for a fever is a good way to distinguish when your child may be feeling well enough to get back to school.
  • Watch for symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. Any digestive symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting should keep your child home.
  • Watch for difficulty breathing. Trouble breathing like wheezing, heavy coughing, and shortness of breath may indicate more severe illness, which should be brought to the attention of your child’s pediatrician.

Know How to Spot a Faker

Children are clever, which means they may catch on to the fact that a cough might get them out of school for the day. While you can test for COVID with a quick home test, it may be a little harder to confirm that your child actually has a cold, flu, or RSV. Always consider the severity of your child’s symptoms and whether they’re able to get out of bed and eat breakfast. If they’re buried under the covers in bed, chances are they’re really sick.

When your child needs immediate medical care for a respiratory illness, MeMD is ready to provide exceptional care via telehealth appointments at a moment’s notice.

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