Too Sick for School?

There are three main reasons to keep a child home from school.

  1. The child doesn't feel well enough to take part in normal activities, (such as feeling overly tired, can't concentrate). 
  2. The child needs more care than teachers and staff can give and still care for other children.
  3. The illness or symptoms are identified in the How Sick is Too Sick? guideline developed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Remember, the best way to prevent the spread of infection is through good hand washing.

Symptoms Child must stay home?
Frequent, loose, or watery stools (poop) compared to normal ones that are not caused by food or medicine.
Yes - if there are other symptoms along with the diarrhea (such as vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, jaundice, etc.), the diarrhea cannot be contained in the toilet, there is blood or mucous in the stool, the child is in diapers or the staff member handles food or bottles. Children and staff may return 24 hours after their last episode of diarrhea unless the diarrhea is caused by an illness that requires them to stay home longer.

Fever with behavior change or other illness.

A child should not be excluded if they have a fever with no other
symptoms unless they are 4 months old or younger.
Yes - if there is also a rash, sore throat, throwing up, diarrhea,
behavior changes, stiff neck, or difficulty breathing.
“Flu-Like” Symptoms
Fever over 100°F with a cough or sore throat. Other flu symptoms can include tiredness, body aches, throwing up, and diarrhea.
Yes - for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.
The fever needs to be gone, without using medicine that reduces the fever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
Coughing Yes - if the coughing is severe, uncontrolled, or the child has wheezing, rapid or trouble breathing. Medical attention is needed for wheezing, rapid or trouble breathing.
Mild Respiratory or Cold

Stuffy nose with clear drainage, sneezing, and mild cough.
No – children and staff may go to school if they are able to take part in usual activities. Children and staff should stay home if the symptoms are severe. This includes fever and if a child is not acting normally and/or has trouble breathing.
Vomiting/Throwing Up
Throwing up two or more times in the past 24 hours, there are other symptoms in addition to the vomiting (such as fever, diarrhea, etc.).
Yes – until 24 hours after throwing up stops or a doctor says it is not contagious. If a child has a recent head injury, watch for other signs of illness and for dehydration. Adults who handle food and bottles must be excluded.

The following is a listing of illnesses that may require children or staff to stay home:

Illness Child must stay home?
Chicken Pox     Yes - until the blisters have dried and crusted (usually 6 days).
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Pink color of eye and thick  yellow/green discharge
No – children and adults do not need to stay home unless they have a fever or are not able to participate in usual activities.
Call your doctor for advice and possible treatment.
Croup (see Coughing) Call your doctor for advice. Note: Children and staff may be able to go to school unless they are not well enough to take part in usual activities.
Fifth’s Disease No – the illness is no longer contagious once the rash appears.
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
(Coxsackie virus)
No - unless the child or adult has mouth sores, is drooling and is not able to take part in usual activities.
Head Lice or Scabies Yes - children may stay at school or child care until the end of the day but cannot return until after they have had the first treatment.
Hepatitis A

Yes - until 1 week after the illness starts and when the child or staff is able to take part in normal activities.
Children and staff should not go to another facility during the period of exclusion.


No - unless there are open sores that cannot be covered or there is nonstop drooling. 


Yes – children and adults needs to stay home until antibiotic treatment has started.

Ringworm Yes - children may stay at school or child care until the end of the day but cannot return until after they have had the first treatment. Keep the area covered for the first 3 days if participating in sports with person to person contact.
Roseola No - unless there is a fever or behavior changes.
RSV (Respiratory Syncytial
No – children and staff can go to school unless they are not well enough to take part in usual activities and/or they have trouble breathing. Call your doctor for advice.
Strep Throat Yes - for 12 hours after starting antibiotics unless the doctor says that it is okay to return to school sooner. Children and staff also need to be able to take part in usual activities.
Yeast Infections
Thrush or Candida diaper rash
No - follow good hand washing and hygiene practices.
Symptoms or illnesses not listed
Contact the school health staff to see if the child needs to stay home.

 (¿Qué tan enfermo es demasiado enfermo?)

Have questions or need more information?  Visit the Health Services page.