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Health Department

How Sick is Too Sick

Some symptoms and some illnesses require that your child stay home from school or child care. Keeping your sick child home helps other children, teachers, and child care workers stay healthy.

When your child is sick, it can be hard to know if they should stay home from school or child care. The symptoms and illnesses that require your to child to stay home are described in the drop-downs below. Your school or child care may have additional criteria for keeping sick children home, including if an outbreak of illness is occurring. Seek medical attention if your child’s symptoms are serious or concerning.

What symptoms require that I keep my child home?

  • Fever in the past 24 hours
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose/congestion

Which illnesses require that my child stay home?

  • COVID-19 (isolate for 5 full days, return with a mask for days 6-10 IF symptoms are improving)
  • Influenza
  • Croup
  • RSV
  • Norovirus
  • Chicken pox
  • Head lice
  • Scabies
  • Ringworm
  • Hepatitis A
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • E. coli (Shiga-toxin producing)

Are there other situations that mean my child should stay home?

If your child was exposed to COVID-19 in the previous 14 days and now has symptoms, keep them home and have them tested for COVID-19.  Symptoms of COVID may include sore throat, runny nose or congestion, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, or diarrhea. Not all people with COVID experience all of these symptoms.

Additionally, if your child is not feeling well enough to participate in regular activities even if they have not been diagnosed with an illness, they should stay home.

I'm still not sure if I should send my child to school or child care. What should I do?

Check with your school or child care. Get medical care if your child’s symptoms are worsening, including if your child has difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, or difficulty staying awake.

CDPHE’s How Sick is Too Sick also includes detailed descriptions of when to keep your child home.