Preschool, Day Care and the Flu -- When to Keep Your Child Home

flu and back to school

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Moms of kids starting preschool or kindergarten for the first time this year have enough to worry about -- what to pack for lunch, adjusting to the new schedule, making sure their kids like their teachers and are making friends.

What a shame that some of these moms, just days into the new school year, are already dealing with the flu!

"My daughter started kindergarten on Monday in a pre-K through 1st grade school," says one CafeMom. "I just got a call from the school automatic call system to make us aware that they have three confimed cases of Swine Flu! I'm suppossed to get more info sent home with her today, but this has me freaked out ...


"I mean it's only August and I have a 3 year old at home! Day care will be just as affected because of the school kids bringing it in after they get out of school. 

"I have heard of confirmed cases all over my state of Missouri and in Tennessee. It's just crazy!"

But that's just one kind of flu. There's also the seasonal, regular-old flu to worry about, too. Flu season typically peaks in late October, but health experts say the blow could come earlier this year.

With this in mind, it bears reminding about the rules for when you should keep your child home from day care and school, courtesy of WebMD:


For most viruses, a child should be fever-free for 24 hours (without medicine) before returning to school. For children with possible swine flu, the experts at the CDC recommend that they stay home for 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

Mild Cough/Runny Nose

If there's no fever and the child feels fairly good, school is fine.

Bad Cough/Cold Symptoms

Children with bad coughs need to stay home and possibly see a doctor. It could be a severe cold or possibly bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia. But when the cough improves and the child is feeling better, then it's back to school.

Diarrhea or Vomiting
Keep your child home until the illness is over, and for 24 hours after the last episode (without medicine). Though diarrhea and vomiting are not usually associated with flu, they may sometimes occur with swine flu.

Sore Throat

A minor sore throat is usually not a problem, but a severe sore throat could be strep throat even if there is no fever. Keep your child home from school and contact a doctor for a strep test. He or she can return to school 24 hours after antibiotic treatment begins.

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