When to keep your child home from daycare or school and when to see a doctor

Anyone with children knows they tend to get sick, especially this time of year. For parents it can be hard to know when to keep a child home from school and see a doctor, or when they should go to school.

Jade Elliott sat down with Dr. Shellie Ring a pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare to provide some simple tips to help parents make their decision on this episode of  the Baby Your Baby Podcast.


A fever is a sign that your child is fighting off an infection that can be either viral or bacterial. Fever can often be treated with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but do not give your child aspirin. Verify the correct doses on the packaging or with your pediatrician. Your child should be fever- free without medication for 24 hours before being sent back to school.

If your child has a temperature of 101 that does not respond to fever reducing medication, then they should be seen by a medical provider.

Diarrhea or Vomiting:

Viral infections can cause vomiting or diarrhea, and these infections can spread easily. Any time they have those symptoms they should stay home from school. Any time a child has persistent vomiting, fever, or generally appear ill you should contact your pediatrician for advice on managing the illness.

Children should only go back to daycare or school once they have no signs of fever and feel well enough to participate in class.

Sore Throat, Coughs, Colds:

These types of illnesses are the most common with children and it can be tougher to know when to keep them home from daycare or school. If coughing is severe and disrupts learning, then parents should keep their child home. If a fever is associated with any of those symptoms kids should also be kept home.


Illnesses and rashes like chickenpox, measles or hand foot and mouth disease, should be looked at by doctor or school nurse to determine what they are and when they’re no longer contagious. Surprisingly lice, scabies, or ringworm are not reasons to stay home once a child has been treated. Although parents should check with their child’s school or daycare for policies.

If parents need advice, they don’t always have to visit their pediatrician’s office to receive care. In some cases, calling your doctor’s office may be all you need. If you can’t get in to see your doctor, services like ConnectCare or KidCare Clinics are another option for receiving medical care.

Whether a child’s illness keeps them home from school or not it’s always a good time to discuss proper hand hygiene. Regular hand washing especially after using a toilet, coughing, touching pets, or before and after eating are key. Doing so removes germs and helps children avoid getting sick in the first place.

It’s also a good time for parents to make sure their children are current on all vaccines including for the flu.

To listen to the podcast on common daycare illnesses, click here.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

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