The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice


While this winter was unseasonably warm and dry, fooling even the lovely flowers into pushing up early, Spring has sprung wet and cold. We are not clear of the cold and flu season just yet.

With both parents working, it can be an agonizing decision to send a child to school while he moans under the blankets. Taking a day off of work may sound lovely, but using up precious vacation days, or worse yet, not getting paid for time off are not appealing options.

As a teacher, I often see sick kids coming to school and dread the passing on of infectious germs. Almost as discouraging is when as many as a third of the class is out sick and chasing kids down to make up work is near impossible. Teachers are not immune. We often use up all our sick days and substitute teachers naturally affect the quality of teaching instruction.


As a working parent, I am well aware of the tough decisions that need to be made and I want to help. After consulting and other resources, I came up with a few rules of thumb for taking junior to the doctor, keeping him home, or dragging him to school.

When to call the doctor:

Any earache should be taken care of by a doctor. If your child has pink eye (conjunctivitis) a doctor needs to determine if an antibiotic is needed. All types of pink eye are highly contagious. Also, any skin rash should been seen by a doctor, as this could be one of several infectious diseases.

When to stay home:

A child with a bad cough should be kept home until the cough improves. Then it’s back to class. No need to wait for the cough to disappear entirely – that could take a week or longer and your child will miss too much curriculum.

If your child has diarrhea or vomiting, keep him home for 24 hours after the last episode.

When to head to school:

If your child does not have a fever (less than 100.4 F) send him to school. A mild cough, sore throat, or runny nose is also okay. Just provide a note to the school office allowing cough drops and a request for permission to get drinks of water frequently. Don’t forget to supply a little pack of tissues that can be easily stashed in a coat pocket.

If the only symptom is a mild stomachache, send him along. It may be constipation, or a case of nerves, or a case of unfinished homework! If a child frequently claims to be ‘sick’ but is fine on weekends, that’s a sign of another issue – there may be trouble at school. Have a heart-to-heart talk about classmates, friends and the educational environment in general. If this reveals no insight, talk to his teacher about his behavior in class and on the playground.

If bullying is a concern, contact the school administration right away. Bullying is rarely an isolated incident and should always be taken seriously. Transparency is the best policy for the sake of victims and the bullies.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi

Contact Margaret Lavin at


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