Parents generally don't know whether or not their children should be kept home from school when they are sick, given that there are consequences both for them and the kids, such as missing a day of work or tests in school. However, parents' opinions differ when it comes to assessing how sick is too sick for school.

A new national poll from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health suggests that the importance of staying-home consequences can be evaluated very differently by parents.

Parents' Views On Sick Children Missing Classes

According to the poll, 75 percent of the parents reported keeping their children home due to sickness at least once in the last year. Among the most important factors evaluated by the parents are concerns that their children's sickness may get worse or that they could spread it to their classmates.

Parents whose children are younger, aged 6 to 9, answered that health-related problems are very important when it comes to calling in sick, while parents of children in high school are more worried about their children missing tests or falling behind in different subjects. Two in five parents of high school children value classwork enough as to be skeptical when it comes to their kids missing school.

It's not just the age of the children, but the symptoms too, that make a difference in the parents' attitudes when it comes to their kids staying home. For instance, 80 percent of the parents would not send children to school with diarrhea. However, when it comes to vomiting, only 58 percent of the parents would do the same, and only 49 percent of them would keep the children home when these have a slight fever, but act normally.

As symptoms become less serious, parents also become less likely to keep children home. Only 16 percent of them would agree for their children to miss school when they have red, watery eyes, but no signs of fever, and no more than 12 percent would keep them home for a runny nose and dry cough, if there is no fever.

"We found that the major considerations were whether attending school could negatively impact a child's health or the health of classmates," noted Gary Freed, M.D., M.P.H., lead author and co-director of the poll.

Notes On Keeping Sick Children Home

To help parents everywhere with their decision, the poll also comes with suggestions. Parents should pay great attention to their children's symptoms and analyze two factors: whether or not the symptoms will disrupt the child's wellbeing in school and whether or not there is the possibility of transmitting the symptoms to other students as well.

The first one is a little subjective to assess, as the symptoms could range. However, if the general state of the child seems to have affected his tonus, if the child is lethargic or has a kind of symptom which would not allow focusing (ranging from diarrhea to a serious cough), parents should consider allowing their kid to stay home.

However, if the symptoms do exist but don't seem to affect the child in any way, the second criterion is to be taken into account. Sometimes a virus manifests differently depending on the host and the immune system of the infected person. This could mean that some peers could be more affected than the child a parent decides to send to school, in case the viral infection spreads.

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