When should a child stay home from school?
Guidelines have evolved over time as medical science better understands disease transmission and treatment. These are current guidelines from the Missoula City-County Health Department as well as other medical resources.
There may be times that school personnel recommend more stringent exclusion criteria than listed below during outbreaks. Example: Suspected or confirmed influenza or norovirus cases may cause the school to advise staying home for 24-48 hours after symptoms resolve.
In general, children should stay home or be sent home when:
- When ill with any symptoms and is feeling too sick to participate in the usual school activities or what is normal for that child.
- The illness results in a greater need for care than school staff can provide without compromising their ability to care for other students.
- Fever is defined as a temperature of 101° orally, 102° rectally or 100° axillary or higher. Fever without behavior change or other signs of illness, does not require exclusion from school.
- Diarrhea (not associated with change in diet) if: stool is not contained in the diaper or stool frequency exceeds 2 or more stools above normal for that child for diapered children, diarrhea is causing accidents for toilet trained children, blood or mucous in stool not caused by constipation, or signs of dehydration or jaundice is present; students may attend school again when the preceding are resolved.
- Vomiting more than 2 times in the previous 24 hours unless the vomiting is determined to be caused by non-communicable condition and the child is not in danger of dehydration.
- Abdominal pain that continues over 2 hours or intermittent abdominal pain with fever, dehydration or other signs of illness.
- Mouth sores with drooling unless determined by health care provider to be non-infectious.
- Rash with fever or behavior changes until determined by health care provider to be non-infectious.
- Impetigo, until 24 hours after treatment has been started.
- Strep throat, until 24 hours after treatment has been started.
- Head lice or nits, until after first treatment (exclusion not necessary before the end of the day).
- Scabies, until after treatment has been given.
- Chickenpox (varicella) until all lesions have dried or crusted (Typically takes about 6 days and this is regardless if child has received varicella vaccine).
- Other communicable diseases such as Rubella, Mumps, Measles, Hepatitis A until no longer considered infectious.
- Draining skin sores that can't be covered or drainage contained unless evaluated and determined to be non-infectious in the school setting by a health care professional.
Conditions that do not require school exclusion not addressed above:
- Common colds, runny noses (regardless of color or consistency of nasal discharge) and coughs.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis, clear eye drainage not associated with fever, eye pain or eye lid redness, or yellow or white eye drainage not associated with pink or red conjunctiva (white of the eyes).
- Ringworm: Exclusion for treatment may be at end of day and exclusion not required when treatment has begun.