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Is your child too ill for nursery?

When your child is unwell it can be tricky deciding whether to send them to nursery, pre-school or the childminder or keep them at home.

If she wakes up complaining of a cough or a sore throat, should you give her a day off and avoid spreading germs to others or send her in as usual on the basis that a day's activities will keep her mind off the symptoms?

Not every illness means your child needs a day off nursery and you will need to use common sense when deciding what to do. It's a good idea to check with the nursery or childcare provider first if your child might have any infection that could be passed on.

The NHS recommends asking yourself three questions:

  • Is your child well enough to do the activities of the school day? If not, keep your child at home.
  • Does your child have a condition that could be passed on to other children or school staff? If so, keep your child at home.
  • Would you take a day off work if you had this condition? If so, keep your child at home.

If your child is ill, the likelihood is that it is due to a handful of minor health conditions. You will need to make a judgement based on how severe you think the illness is.

However, there are certain illnesses and conditions when you should definitely keep a child away from nursery. Here are a few common conditions with tips about what to do.

Coughs and colds

Your child may be fit enough to attend nursery if she only has a minor cough or cold, but do check with the nursery first.

If the cold is accompanied by a raised temperature, shivers or drowsiness, the child should stay away from nursery, receive medical advice, and return to school 24 hours after they start to feel better.

If your child has a more severe or long lasting cough, also seek medical advice.

A child with flu should stay at home until they feel better.

Raised temperature

If your child has a raised temperature, they should not attend nursery.

They can go back 24 hours after they feel better.

A rash

A rash can be a sign of infectious diseases like chickenpox or measles, so don't send them to nursery if you see one.

Check with your GP or practice nurse who can advise you what to do.

If your child has chickenpox, you should keep him off nursery until all the spots have crusted over, which is usually around five or six days after the onset of the rash

In cases of measles, your child should stay away for at least 5 days after the onset of the rash. German measles, or rubella, means your child must stay away from nursery for six days after the rash appears.

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