Post-Pandemic Rules: Do you send a kid with a cold to school?

Last week we had parent-teacher conferences at my daughter’s school, and my husband and I both attended. My daughter is in the first grade and her teacher said she is missing too many days.

Okay, so she missed two days in September because we were on vacation. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that.

But the other days she was sick. Sinus crap. Virus stuff. Nasty cough. Belly ache. She’s been through it all and she passes it all around. My husband and I get sick. The neighbor girl gets sick a lot, too. When she’s sick I usually keep her home.

The conference with my daughter’s teacher was only last week but my daughter has already gotten sick again. Lots of snot and coughing.

I sent her to school anyway and I felt like an asshole – first because my daughter doesn’t feel well and second, because now other kids are going to get sick. But she didn’t have a fever, no vomiting, and no diarrhea – so off to school she goes.

With the pandemic still on our minds, I thought it was best to play it safe, but this time I just sent her to school. 

What do you think? It’s just a cold – she’s not dying – but I feel Covid may have changed the rules a bit. My work has made it really clear – if you’re sick, stay home! But what about school? How sick does your kid have to be to keep them home?


  1. Katydid says

    This is harder on you than it needs to be because you’re in a state that denies Covid exists and doesn’t believe in masking.

    Let me reassure you right now: whatever decision you make is the right one. School can be a no-win proposition as far as attendance goes. Of course you want her to go and have all the school experiences…but if she’s not feeling well, not only is she not learning, but she might be infecting the other children. Do you have an email address for the teacher or the school itself? If so, you might want to start a paper trail, something like,

    “Dear Teacher (Insert name here): (My child) has a bit of congestion and coughing but no fever. Per your request that she not miss too many days of school, we are sending her in. If she feels more unwell during the day, please contact me and I will pick her up.” That way, if you’re getting complaints that she’s going in mildly ill, you have documentation that the teacher insisted.

    Anecdote time; one year at the start of a No Child Left Untested week, my child came home from school looking flushed and miserable and complaining of a sore throat. We went to one of those walk-in places and got a quick-strep test, which was positive. We left with antibiotics and a demand to stay home until the child was fever-free for 24 hours. The next day, we got a call from the principal–where is the child? I said, “Home with strep” and that was the end of it.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I think there’s an element of how much respect you have for the education system and the people who represent it.
    Some parents regard teachers as simply “the help” – people who work for them. And given that I pay my tax and plenty of it, I absolutely do pay the teachers’ wages, so I’m prepared to take a very, VERY limited amount of shit from them. I’m very much not the sort of person who has a lingering fear reaction when entering a school or having to interact with a teacher, like some of my friends have confessed to. Apart from anything else, I’ve been in too many relationships with teachers in the last 15 years to have any mystique about them, plus with (I think) some justification I have little respect for teaching as a profession as it is currently practiced in the UK.
    On the other hand, it’s my children I’m talking about, and I have a huge respect for the importance of their education (by which I mean more than their absorption of knowledge to pass tests), so any teacher pushing that as the angle is pushing on an open door. I won’t be taking my kids out of school to go on holiday, for instance.
    My older one’s school has a clear, prescriptive list of illnesses, posted outside the school. It lists symptoms which justify absence, and clearly states conditions for return. If your kid isn’t exhibiting those symptoms – they go in. If they are, they stay home until the conditions are met (e.g. x days symptom free). Even post covid, “coughing” isn’t a symptom that keeps you home. Frankly, this makes sense. If my kid and I (or my wife) had to stay home every time they developed a sniffle, they’d hardly ever be in, particularly over winter. Kids get colds. One of the things they need to learn at school is just coping and carrying on with, let’s be honest, unpleasant but self-limiting and non-serious conditions. I don’t think you’re doing a kid any favours giving them the idea that a cold is a reason to take to their bed.

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