Symptoms of Illness at Home or School

  • First-aid and medical care provided by the school nurse is primarily  for illnesses or injuries that occur at school during the school day.  The Health Office is not a primary care facility like a doctor's office or urgent care facility. While I am qualified to make a medical assessment of your child's condition,  the nurse does not make medical diagnoses, prescribe treatments or medications.  I can provide treatments and medications as prescribed by a physician. 

    DO NOT send a sick child to school for the school nurse to decide whether she/he should be in school.  If in doubt, call your family physician.  School nurses can assess and refer, but we do not diagnose, and will always refer to your physician if in doubt.

    School is no place for a sick child.  Please do not send your children to school if:
        -  they have a fever within the past 24 hours
        -  have vomited within the last 24 hours
        -  have any diarrhea in the last 24 hours
        -  have any of the symptoms listed below.  Children should be free of fever for 24 hours or one full school day before returning to school, regardless of how they feel.  If your child has been diagnosed with a communicable disease such as strep throat or pink eye, s/he must have been on antibiotic treatment (and free of fever) for 24 hours prior to returning to school.  Also, please notify the school office or school nurse of any diagnosed communicable disease so that other parents can be notified.

    Signs/symptoms of illness:
            - Fever (oral temp of 100.0 or more)
            - Diarrhea, any loose stools
            - Red, watery eyes, pus in corners
            - Constant sneezing and/or deep cough, constant runny nose
            - Unexplained rash
            - Headache
            - Nausea or vomiting
            - Swelling of the neck or face
            - Flushed face or paleness
            - Very sore throat
            - Painful earache

    If your child has a temperature in the health office of 100 degrees or greater, she/he will be sent home.   Any child with an undiagnosed rash will be sent home and should remain out of school until all symptoms are gone or a physician verifies (with a written note) that the child is not contagious and is well enough to return to school.   If your child is sent home by the school nurse due to fever, vomiting or diarrhea, s/he may not return to school for at least 24 hours, even if s/he is feeling better.  


           l.          Keep the child lightly clothed at all times.  Infants and small children need only a diaper; older children, only underpants and undershirts.

           2.         DO NOT use heavy covers, blankets, or quilts to cover the child while in bed.  The most that is needed is a single sheet.

           3.         Keep the child's room cool (no warmer than 70 degrees) and well ventilated.  

           4.         Give lots of cool, clear liquids as often as the child will drink them.  As a rule, clear liquids are anything you can see newspaper through‑‑for example:  water, apple juice, 7‑Up, ginger ale,                         and orange, lemon, or lime jello.

           5.         Give sponge baths with tepid water.  DO NOT USE ALCOHOL.

                       A child may be seated in a tub and water poured over the front and back for 30 minutes.

           6.         Take the child's temperature and record both time and temperature, noting whether it was taken orally, rectally, temporal, in the ear or in the armpit.

           7.         To reduce fever and relieve aches and pains safely, you may prefer to give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), using the dosage indicated on the bottle or as                           prescribed by your doctor.  USE OF ASPIRIN IN CHILDREN IS NOT RECOMMENDED as it has been closely associated with the occurrence of Reyes Syndrome.


           9.         Fever is a symptom and your family doctor should be notified.  They will want to see a child for assessment of causative illness.


           l.          Withhold food from the stomach for a period of 3‑6 hours.

           2.         Wait 30 minutes after the child has vomited and give the child ice chips or water in small amounts.  If the child retains this, you may give then give clear liquids in small amounts (tea, jello,                       ginger ale, 7‑UP, or Gatorade).

           3.         After 6 hours without recurrent vomiting, you may introduce the child to clear soups, broths, or soft foods.

           4.         If your child has persistent vomiting, you should contact your family doctor.


    As with vomiting, treatment for diarrhea must involve resting the GI tract, so follow the same instructions.    .