Consumer Reports: When to keep sick kids home from school

If you're a parent, nothing wreaks havoc with your schedule more than a sick kid and the decision whether or not to send them to school. Consumer Reports has some advice on how to handle five common kid ailments.

Cough. Runny nose. Tummy ache. Every parent has dealt with a sick child, and often that means making a quick decision whether or not to keep their child home from school.

When it comes to cold symptoms, if your kid has no fever, they can generally attend school, even with a runny nose or a slight cough.

"The important thing to pay attention to is whether they're too sick to participate in activities to pay attention and learn," said Lauren Friedman of Consumer Reports. "And if they're so sick that it's going to take away from the teacher's ability to manage the classroom, that's when you need to think about keeping them home."

If your youngster vomited or had diarrhea once during the night, but otherwise seems fine before it's time to go to school - they ate a normal breakfast and is fever free - it's reasonable to send them off to school.

But if it happened more than once, it's probably best to keep them home.

Get this: Kids miss more than three million days of school a year due to pink eye.

"So, the first thing you need to be concerned about with pink eye is whether your child's school has a policy, because many school's will require that you keep a kid with pink eye home," Friedman said. "So that should be your first order of business. If you're not required to keep your kid home, the important thing is to make sure they're taking general precautions, like washing their hands and not rubbing their eyes. That will help prevent them from spreading it."

If your child has head lice, that may seem like a clear signal to keep your child home. But actually, if your child is being properly treated for lice, you don't need to keep them home unless it's required by school policy. As long as kids keep their heads apart and don't share things like hats, helmets, and combs, they should be fine.

And finally, ringworm, a contagious fungal skin condition that's easily spread by sharing infected hats, combs or hair barrettes.

As long as treatment has started, your child should be able to attend school, but should be excluded from activities that could spread it, like using communal swimming pools or showers, and should not share anything that touches their hair or skin.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit