When is your child sick enough to miss school?

Keeping your child home from school due to illness can have an impact on everything from your own work to homework. So should you be strict and send them in? Read our simple guidelines

Sometimes it’s obvious when your child isn’t well enough for school, and only the harshest mum would send them in. But it’s rarely as clear-cut as that, and when you add in the fact that you might have to take a day off too, to look after them, you could be forgiven for wondering whether they’d be better off at school. Which is where our simple guidelines come in handy.

High temperature

If your child has a raised temperature – anything over 37.5ºC – they should stay off school.

When can they go back to school?

When the temperature returns to normal, then it’s fine for your child to go back to school as long as they don’t have any other symptoms


Lots of things can cause mild headaches, from tiredness to eye-strain. If your child has a headache that persists or is severe though, you should always consult your GP.

When can they go back to school?

Your child doesn’t need to miss school because of a mild headache. If it’s a recurring problem or is accompanied by other symptoms, consult your GP.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

If your child is feeling queasy or has tummy ache, but this passes, you can send them to school. You should, however, flag up any concerns with the teacher and make sure the school has your contact details.
If your child actually vomits, you’ll need to keep them off school for at least 24 hours, even if they appear to feel better. The same is true for an episode of diarrhoea.
Most cases of vomiting or diarrhoea pass with rest and rehydration, but if your child seems very unwell, contact your GP.

When can they go back to school?

Your child cannot return to school until 24 hours have passed without any vomiting or diarrhoea. (In some schools this period is longer, so it’s best to check with the school office.)

Cough, minor cold or sore throat

If your child has a cough or a sore throat but no other symptoms, then they’re probably fine to go to school. However, if they have a raised temperature, are drowsy or get the shivers, keep them off school.

When can they go back to school?

Give your child 24 hours after symptoms subside before sending them back to school.


Children can get rashes for all sorts of innocent reasons, from heat rash to a change of washing powder, but they can also be a symptom of a more serious problem like measles or chicken pox.
If you’re in any doubt, or the rash is accompanied by your child feeling rundown, hot or nauseous, keep them off school and see your GP.

When can they go back to school?

It’s best to get your GP’s guidance here.
With chickenpox, the spots may take a couple of weeks to disappear, but your child is fine to go back to school once the spots have crusted over and dried up completely. This tends to be around one week after the first spots appear, but it can vary.

Keep in touch with your child’s school

If your child needs to stay at home, call the school’s office as early as you can that day. If the school does not get notification, it will be recorded as an ‘unauthorised absence’.
Check if your school is happy with verbal notification, or if they prefer to get a letter for their files, which can be handed in once your child is back at school.
If your child is very ill or off for some time, the school may request a GP’s letter.

Keeping everyone well

None of us can prevent our family from ever getting sick (unfortunately!), but these five golden rules for family health