When To Send Your Child Back To School Or Day Care
The main requirement for returning your child to school is that the fever has been gone for 24 hours and that your child feels well enough to be in school.
Another issue on returning to school is whether or not your child is contagious. Most bacterial infections are no longer contagious after 24 hours of taking antibiotics. For example: Children with pink eye can return to school after 24 hours on antibiotic eye drops, even though their eyes are still pink.
For minor illnesses like the common cold, it doesn't make sense to keep your child home at all, unless he develops a complication or fever. If we waited until he is no longer shedding any viruses, it might take 2 or 3 weeks. If isolation for respiratory infections were taken seriously, there wouldn't be enough days in the school year to educate children. Most children also shed germs before they even look sick or have any symptoms. In other words, the spread of respiratory viruses is really beyond our control.
Finally, as long as your child's fever is gone, and symptoms are not incapacitating, there is no reason why she can't return to school, go to parties, and participate in after-school activities. While a cold shouldn't interfere with important events, any physically challenging situations such as gym and sports may need to be put on hold for a day or two.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.