• Student in a classroom looking at a classmate

    Attendance: When Should I Keep My Child Home?

    Everyone gets sick now and then and needs to stay home from school or work. Deciding when a child should stay home is sometimes difficult. However, if a child misses too much school, learning time is lost, and opportunities are missed. LCPS wants to work with you to help minimize the number of days your student is absent from school. 

    To assist parents/caregivers in making a determination about when to keep a student home from school, below are some common situations and guidance about school attendance. This general guidance applies to children who are between the ages of 5 and 18 years old; recommendations may be different for infants or younger children. Parents/guardians should talk with their child’s doctor or healthcare provider if they are unsure if their child should stay home from school. The list is designed to be a guide and does not replace medical or healthcare guidance.

    Symptom or Illness

    Should I keep my child home?

    Chronic illnesses
    (Asthma, Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc.)

    No - As long as your child’s symptoms are controlled, your child should attend school. School personnel are trained to assist children with chronic illnesses and related healthcare requirements. Make sure school staff are aware of your child’s condition.

    Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, mild cough

    No - If your child is able to participate in school activities, they should attend school.

    Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)
    Pink or red eye with swelling of the eyelids and eye discharge. Eyelids may be matted shut after sleep. May involve one or both eyes. 

    Yes - If your child has symptoms, please keep them home until symptoms resolve or they are cleared to return by a  healthcare provider.

    Fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, runny nose/congestion, diarrhea, nausea/ vomiting, headaches

    Yes - Keep your student home for five days. See LCPS COVID-19 Procedures for additional guidance.

    Frequent, loose or watery stool may mean illness but can also be caused by food or medication

    Yes - If your child has diarrhea with other signs of illness such as fever or vomiting, keep your child home until diarrhea has stopped for 24 hours. If your child also has abdominal pain, fever or vomiting, consult a healthcare provider.


    Yes - If your child has a fever of more than 100.4° Fahrenheit, keep them home until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication and are able to participate in class. Contact a healthcare provider for further guidance.

    Fever, cough, headaches, aches and pains

    Yes - Students with the flu should remain at home until they are fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication and able to participate in class. A healthcare provider can test to determine if your child has the flu.

    Head lice

    No - Your child can be in school if an initial treatment has been completed.

    Menstruation (Periods)

    No - In most cases, menstruation and menstruation-related symptoms can be managed, and your child should attend school. If severe pain is interfering with your child attending school, consult with a healthcare provider.

    Rash with fever

    Yes - Keep your child home if they have a rash with a fever. If the rash spreads quickly, is not healing, or has open weeping wounds, you should keep your child at home and have them seen by a healthcare provider.

    Seasonal allergies

    No - Students with seasonal allergies can participate in class and should attend school.

    Strep throat
    Sudden onset of fever, sore throat, red and  swollen tonsils

    Yes - Keep your child home for the first 12  hours after an antibiotic is begun and while they have a fever. Your child may return to school when they have completed at least 12 hours of antibiotic use AND are fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms are improving.

    Child has vomited two or more times in a 24-hour period

    Yes - Keep your student home until vomiting has stopped for 24 hours. Contact a healthcare provider if vomiting continues. 

    School Refusal
    Some students struggle with anxiety connected to school. Resources and services are available to students struggling with anxiety about school or other challenges related to consistent school attendance. Your school’s Unified Mental Health Team can provide resources or guidance. More resources are available on the School Anxiety, Avoidance and Refusal webpage.

    Support Your Child’s School Attendance and Keep the School Informed
    Below is some additional guidance to help keep the school informed of your student’s situation: 

    • Regular, on-time attendance is one of the keys to success in school. Make sure your student comes to school every day unless the absence is necessary.

    • If your child has a chronic illness, make sure that school staff is aware so assistance can be provided when needed.

    • Keep an open line of communication with your student’s teachers and other school staff. The more the school knows about your student’s health needs, the better prepared everyone will be to work together to support your child.

    American Academy of Pediatrics. (2022, September 26). American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Report on Controlling and Treating Head Lice in Children, Adolescents

    Aronson, S. and Shope, T. (Ed.). (2020). Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide, 5th edition. American Academy of Pediatrics. 

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Head lice information for schools. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). The flu: A guide for parents. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

    National Association of School Nurses. (2020). Head lice management in schools (Position Statement). 

    National Institutes of Health (2022, January). Is it flu, COVID-19, allergies, or a cold? News in Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

    Virginia Department of Health. (2023). VDH Communicable Disease Reference Chart for School and Child Care Facility Personnel.

    Virginia Department of Health (n.d.). Flu basics.


Last Modified on February 8, 2024