School Day Dilemma: How Sick Is Too Sick?

Last updated on March 14th, 2024 at 04:50 pm

Worried black mother talks on the phone while measuring son's temperature at home.

In the rush of morning routines, you may face a tough call after finding out your child is sick. It’s not easy when you know they’re not feeling well, and deciding whether they should stay home from school can be tricky. Just how sick is too sick for school?

“Making the right call comes down to checking out their symptoms and knowing what’s best for your kid,” says Dr. Elana Roumell, a pediatric naturopathic doctor and mother of three. To help parents feel more confident when their kids get sick, she shares the following advice on handling colds, fevers, and tummy troubles.

Coughs and Colds

If your child has a cold or cough and hasn’t slowed down at home, it is usually safe for them to go to school. However, Dr. Roumell says there are a few exceptions to bear in mind: if their cough interrupts their focus or keeps them up at night, keep them home.

Regardless of what you decide, you’ll want to relieve their symptoms with a gentle homeopathic medicine. If cough or chest congestion* is bothersome, you can try Chestal Kids Honey Syrup. In cases of sneezing, runny noses, and nasal congestion, ColdCalm Kids Pellets can provide relief.*


Any temperature of 100.4 degrees or more is considered a fever. Fevers are a sign of infection, such as the flu, which means your child is contagious. Even if you bring the fever down, they can still spread their sickness to others, so keep them at home.

While they recuperate, Dr. Roumell suggests helping them feel more comfortable with a medicine like Oscillococcinum for relief of flu-like symptoms including fever, as well as body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.** Homeopathic single medicines, such as Aconitum napellus or Belladonna, can also be used, depending on accompanying symptoms of sweating or dry skin. (Learn more about using these here.)

Although fevers can be scary for parents, Dr. Roumell explains they are actually good because it’s the body’s natural response to fighting off an infection.

“While some symptoms of a fever, like a pesky cough, can linger, it doesn’t mean you need to keep your child isolated.” Dr. Roumell advises. “The general rule of thumb is to wait until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours and they’re no longer feeling absolutely miserable, before sending your kids back to school.”


Nausea alone might not warrant keeping your child home. If it can be attributed to nerves or something they ate, it’s generally fine to send them to school. However, nausea that is strong or accompanied by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or a sore throat are signs of an illness and that means they could be contagious.

In such situations, it’s best they stay home until they can keep food and fluids down for a full 24 hours. To help relieve stomach upset, you might consider NauseaCalm which addresses nausea and vomiting associated with stomach flu.* If you are worried about sending them back too early, check in with your doctor for advice.

“Getting sick is a normal part of childhood,” says Dr. Roumell, “but remember that you know your child best, so if you have a gut feeling that you need to visit the doctor, go!”

To find the best homeopathic medicines to relieve your child’s symptoms, try the Boiron Medicine Finder. Learn more about Dr. Roumell’s Med School for Moms program and listen to her “Doctor Mom” podcast online.

*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA Evaluated.

**These “Uses” have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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