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How do I know when my child is too sick to go to daycare or school?
Q: How do I know when my child is too sick to go to daycare?
Amy Coudersport
A: Amy, it is very important to keep your child home from daycare when she’s sick for two main reasons: so you can give her the individual attention and rest she needs to get better; and to avoid spreading the illness to the other children and caregivers. That doesn’t mean you have to keep your child home for every little illness, such as colds, but for illnesses that are more serious and contagious.

First and foremost, you need to follow your childcare program’s policies on when to keep your child home for illness. Childcare programs may have slightly different policies, depending on their staffing and their facilities. Some childcare programs have the staff and facilities to care for children with mild illnesses who may need a little more attention and rest, and others do not.

Health authorities have also developed detailed recommendations for when a child is too sick to attend childcare:

1. If the illness prevents your child from participating comfortably in the childcare activities.

2. If the illness results in greater need for care than the childcare staff can provide.

3. If your child has any of the following symptoms:
  • Fever or rash with behaviour change or other symptoms of illness

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Pinkeye with white, yellow or green discharge

  • Mouth sores with drooling

  • Symptoms of possible severe illness, e.g., extreme lethargy, uncontrolled coughing, persistent crying, difficulty breathing, persistent abdominal pain


  • 4. If your child has been diagnosed with any of the following conditions (until the doctor determines it is adequately treated and/or no longer contagious): head lice, scabies, tuberculosis, impetigo, strep throat and scarlet fever, chicken pox, pertussis, mumps, hepatitis A, measles, rubella, shingles, and herpes simplex.

    Be sure you know what your childcare program’s policies are regarding children’s illnesses. If your child is ill in the morning and you’re not sure whether to take her to childcare, call your childcare provider to explain your child’s symptoms and ask her opinion. If you take your child to the doctor and an illness is diagnosed, tell the doctor that your child is in childcare, ask him how long your child should stay home, and ask for a note about the illness and treatment to share with your childcare provider. It is very important to have good communication with your doctor and your childcare provider about your child’s illnesses.