The real danger of sending kids to school with flu symptoms

If you made it through the holidays in one piece, there’s probably nothing you look forward to more than getting back to work and getting your kid back into the classroom. But let’s not forget that it’s flu season, a time when parents shouldn’t be too quick to push their kids back to school if they came down with something over winter break.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been in this situation as a working mom with two young kids in day care. I have spent many, many hours with Dr. Google and actual doctors, trying to figure out when my child is too sick to go to day care for the sake of other kids and when he just has a runny nose.

But now, we find ourselves right smack dab in the middle of flu season. If your schedule is tight and your boss is demanding, it may seem like the best choice to give your child some Tylenol and send him off to school just to “see how it goes.” Darci Hodge, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital director of infection control, strongly disagrees with this approach.

Hodge says, “Be aware of the needs of other people. Your child may have the flu and may not act all that sick. But they can affect another child or their teacher. It can cause them to be very sick and very harmful to someone else.”

I, of course, am paraphrasing here, but this is a time when someone really needs to think of the children. It is a dick move to send your possibly sick child to school to infect other kids during flu season.

If your child has been diagnosed with the flu, they are contagious for up to seven days. Parents need to watch for common symptoms like fever, stuffy nose, cough and sore throat. A child may be contagious until all symptoms are gone completely.

The reason this word of warning is so important is because flu cases are expected to hit their high for the year in January. I’m not normally an alarmist, as statistics often need to be put in perspective, but the CDC confirms that 21 kids have already been killed by the flu this season.

Depending on the state of another child’s health, sending your kid to school with flu symptoms could be a matter of life or death. It is outrageously inconvenient to take extra time off work and care for a child with the flu. But it is unforgivable to send your sick child to school to spread the flu to other kids. Don’t do it.

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