'Tis the Season for Colds! When to Keep Your Child Home from Preschool

High angle view of a cute little boy suffering from cold as he lies in bed

At this time of year it probably feels like your child is constantly sick. Whether they have a runny nose, a cough, a stomach bug or a fever, it’s difficult to know if you should keep your child at home or send them to preschool. It’s very common for children at preschool age to have a runny nose with many fighting at least 6-8 colds a year. 

In a child care setting, illnesses spread quickly because most children are still building their immune system. We’ve covered everything you need to know about the five most common viruses that your little one will most likely catch during their time at preschool right. See the Top 5 Common Viruses.

When to Keep Your Child at Home

If your little one is acting out of character and unwilling to participate in everyday activities, it is usually a sign that they need to stay home. However, if they’ve been awake all night coughing and are feeling very lethargic it’s time to take that sick day. As their parents you know your child best and therefore, will instantly spot if they’re not themselves. 

What to Do If It’s a Runny Nose?

A runny nose, a cough and a sore throat doesn’t usually stop a young child from playing with their toys or eating breakfast. Typically, these mild symptoms will not affect their energy levels or appetite. They should be happy to go to preschool and interact as usual with their friends and teachers.  

What to Do If It’s a Fever?

Never send your kid to preschool if they have a fever. It is more than likely that they will be irritable, clingy and upset, which means they need a day or two snuggled on the sofa with lots of fluids and sleep. Once the fever has broken naturally your child will be ready to return to preschool. 

What to Do If It’s a Stomach Bug?  

The most common symptoms of an upset tummy will be vomiting, diarrhea or possibly both! Your little one will need to stay at home until the symptoms have stopped and their appetite has mostly returned. A stomach bug will make your child feel miserable, unhappy and tired. The last place they should be is in the classroom. 


Portrait of child sitting in living room with Teddy bear

How to Prevent Your Child From Becoming Ill

According to CNN, it's spending more time indoors that spreads viruses in winter. This is why more children are ill in the winter – it's too cold to be outside!

Believe it or not, it’s not the cold weather that spreads viruses in winter, it’s spending more time indoors that does it, says CNN. Experts explain that the dry conditions and close contact inside are the perfect way for illnesses like the common cold to spread easily. The CDC explains how to reduce the risk of becoming ill.

  • Ensure that the whole household washes their hands frequently with soap and water. Always use hand lotion to prevent dry skin. 
  • Try to spend more time outdoors. 
  • Encourage your children to avoid touching their face, eyes, mouth and nose. 
  • Actively stay away from those who have a cold or influenza. 
  • Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. It is good practice to use the crook of your elbow to cover the sneeze to prevent the virus transmitting to your hands. 

What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Covid-19

If you are worried that your child is showing symptoms of Covid-19 it is important that you take them to get a test to put your mind at ease. A positive test result requires your child to isolate for 10 days before they will be able to return to child care. Be aware of the most common symptoms, which include a fever, coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath. Luckily, most children with mild Covid-19 symptoms do recover at home without medical care. However, if your child does become very unwell and has trouble breathing seek emergency help immediately. Find more information on Covid-19 at the CDC website

The Best Ways to Help Your Child Recover 

Most colds do clear up after a couple of weeks. There is no specific cure but there are ways to make your child feel more comfortable whilst they are feeling unwell along with a lot of patience!

  • Keep your child hydrated with plenty of fluids. 
  • Allow for them to rest as much as possible. 
  • Encourage your child to blow their nose regularly. 
  • Slightly raise the head of your little one’s bed to help relieve congestion.
  • Saline nasal sprays can help to unblock your child’s nose. 
  • Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly just under the nose to prevent chapping. 
  • Seek advice from a healthcare professional if symptoms do not improve. Over-the-counter products may help but always discuss with your healthcare provider before using them. 

What Are the Kids Konnect Preschool Rules?

There’s also the preschool rules to consider. Most state when to keep children at home to prevent the illness from spreading to the rest of the class and teachers. Please find our policy below. 

  • Children MUST be fever free for 72 hours (without the use of fever reducing medication) before returning to the program.  We classify a fever as a temperature of 100 degrees F or higher.  
  • We will expect a parent to pick up a child within 30 minutes if a child exhibits symptoms of illness during the day. These symptoms include, but are not limited to inability to participate in routine activities, needing more care than staff can provide, fever (100 degrees F or higher with temporal thermometer), fever with behavior changes, difficulty breathing, uncontrolled/excessive coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, open sores, rashes, signs of infection, runny nose with colored mucus, or any other sign of communicable illness. 
  • If a child is sent home from one of our programs due to a contagious illness, they MUST remain home the entire following day or if fever is present for 72 hours, no exceptions. 
  • Please do not bring your child to school if they are visibly unwell, not behaving like themselves, and cannot participate in the program as they normally do – if your child has an excessive green runny nose and/or cough, please try to keep them home until symptoms clear.

Contact Kids Konnect

Is there anything in particular that helps you decide whether to keep your child at home from preschool? At Kids Konnect we’d love to know! Please leave your comments below or contact us at Kids Konnect.