Nurse Information

Is My Child Too Sick for School?

Useful Guidelines

It can be difficult for a parent to know if their child should come to school when the parent knows the child is not feeling well.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when making that decision:

  1. Does the child have a fever?
  2. Does the child have symptoms that prevent him or her from participating in school, such as :
    • Excessive tiredness or lack of appetite
    • Productive coughing, sneezing
    • Headache, body aches, earache
    • Sore throat*
  3. Has the child been vomiting or have diarrhea?
  4. Do you think your child may be contagious to other children?

*A minor sore throat may not be a problem, but a severe sore throat could be strep, even if there is no fever. Other symptoms of strep throat in children include headache and stomach upset. Contact your healthcare provider to see if your child needs a throat culture.

Keep your child home until his or her fever has been gone for 24 hours without medication. Colds can be contagious for at least 48 hours. Returning to school too soon may slow the recovery process and can unnecessarily expose others to illness.

Please note: these tips should not take the place of medical advice from a healthcare provider.

If My Child is Sick, How Do I Help Him/Her Feel Better?

  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and reduced screen time (TV, computer, handheld devices).
  • Encourage fluids such as water, soup, juice and ice.
  • Help your child relax by reading a story and giving plenty of TLC.
  • Consider using a cool humidifier.

How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting Sick?

  • Keep all of your child’s immunizations up-to-date.
  • Teach your child to wash his or her hands frequently, using plenty of soap and warm water.
  • Teach your child to cough and sneeze into an elbow.
  • Keep the child’s environment tobacco free.
  • Try to minimize the time your child spends with others who have respiratory symptoms.
  • Keep an annual well-child exam to follow the changes in your child’s health.
  • Prevention guidelines now recommend an annual flu shot for most children from the age of 6 months.
  • Serve a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Daily vitamins may be recommended by your child’s healthcare provider.
  • After your child is feeling better, clean all surfaces, wash bedding, and air out the room.
  • Keep surfaces like door knobs, phones, remote controls, toys, and keyboards clean.
  • Always make sure to consult with healthcare professionals with concerns or questions.

New Law Changes Student Immunization Requirements

Notice of Immunizations Needed: 2015 School Law Update

The 2015 Montana Legislature revised school immunization requirements for school attendance through the passage of House Bill (HB) 158. The law, signed by the governor and effective October 1, 2015 requires students attending school be vaccinated against varicella disease (chickenpox) and receive a booster of pertussis vaccine at 7th grade.

  • Students in kindergarten through 12th grade will need to have two doses of varicella vaccine. If a child had chickenpox, in lieu of receiving the varicella vaccine a student or parent can use any of the following evidence of immunity to varicella:
    1. Laboratory evidence of immunity or laboratory confirmation of disease
    2. Diagnosis or verification of a history of varicella disease(chickenpox) or herpes zoster (shingles) by a health-care provider (MD, DO, NP, PA)
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) will be required for students prior to attending 7th grade. Students currently in grades 8th-12th who have not received their Tdap will require a single dose.
  • Since the duration of immunity as a result of pertussis disease is not clearly established, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice do not encourage the use of history of illness as an exemption for pertussis vaccination. Montana’s rules will be consistent with this recommendation.
  • You may have your child’s immunization history assessed and needed vaccines administered at your child’s healthcare provider or at the local county health department. Additional information and varicella history documentation forms have been provided to local healthcare offices.
  • The changes to the law were made to bring Montana’s immunization requirements more in line with the most current immunization recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). Of note, Montana was the only state that did not require the varicella series and one of five not requiring a pertussis booster at middle school for attendance.
  • Additionally, the new requirements are intended to reduce the incidence of diseases like chickenpox and whooping cough both in school settings and in the community. Montana’s rates for both of these diseases are typically higher than any other state in the region

Please submit immunization documentation at the start of the 2015-2016 school year to the School Nurse at your child’s school.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.