NHS guidance states kids should be sent to school with coughs, colds and Covid – as Education Minister Nick Gibb brands parents “too cautious”.
School attendance has decreased a staggering amount due to overly-worried parents following the pandemic, according to the minister.
Persistent school absences have risen significantly in the last two years[/caption]
And the latest NHS advice states pupils should even go into school with Covid if symptoms are mild.
However, parents have been left confused as guidelines also state if a child tests positive they are advised to “stay at home and avoid contact with other people for a further three days”.
An NHS England spokeswoman told MailOnline the suggestion was aimed at those with “mild Covid symptoms who have not tested positive”.
But that “children with a high temperature, who don’t feel well enough to go to school, or who have tested positive should stay off school”.
Students suffering with glandular fever, coughs, colds, and sore throats have also been given the green light to attend school.
The only exception is if the child has a high fever, or is unable to complete their work.
Additionally, contagious infections such as conjunctivitis, threadworm and head lice don’t qualify for a sick note.
And, Nick Gibb believes opportunities to learn from home has made it too easy for kids to stay out of the classroom.
“It’s actually easier for parents to allow their child to remain home if they are working from home”, he said while speaking at the education committee last week.
But, there are still plenty of illnesses that require time off school, including vomiting, diarrhoea, chicken pox, impetigo and scarlet fever.
Mr Gibb also said at the committee: “One of the reasons for the stubbornness of the decline in absence has been illness.
“We’ve had an outbreak of flu and scarlet fever and if you look at the composition of persistent absence, two-thirds of persistent absence is illness or medical appointments.
“There are some longer-term consequences of the lockdown that concerns us and one is that parents have been slightly more cautious about sending their child into school with a mild cold.
“And we’re trying to emphasise the point that it is the fever that matters.
“There is a higher caution amongst parents about sending their child into school if they are showing symptoms of a cold or something.”
The minister also spoke of a time when children had “no choice” but to go in despite anxiety.
“Both parents have stressful jobs they have to get to by 8 o’clock – there really is no choice, the child has to go it”, he explained.
However he did recognise there is a “real mental health issue” surrounding the “staggering” decrease in school attendance.
“There was a mental health issue in schools I felt before the pandemic, that problem is even more severe as a consequence of lockdown and children being away from their peers during the pandemic”, he added.
The minister’s concerns reflect statistics, published by the British Politics and Policy Blog, that showed a rise from 921,927 persistently absent pupils, to 1,672,178 in the last two years.
Researcher Elliot Major, a Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter described the shocking figures as “startling”.
In the same term, 11.7 per cent of students missed a half day, while four years later in 2021 23.5 per cent had been absent.
Plus, just over four per cent of lessons were missed in the Autumn term of 2017, compared to nearly seven per cent last year.
When it’s fine to go to school
✓ Cold sores
There’s no need to keep your child off school if they have a cold sore – a tiny blister that develops on the lips or around the mouth.
Urge them not to touch the blister or kiss anyone while they have the cold sore, or to share things like cups and towels.
Again, you don’t need to keep your child away from school if they have conjunctivitis, an eye condition caused by infection or allergies.
The NHS recommends you get advice from your pharmacist and encourage your child not to rub their eyes and to wash their hands regularly.
✓ Coughs and colds
It’s fine to send your child to school with a minor cough or cold.
However, if they have a fever, keep them off school until the fever goes.
Encourage your child to throw away any used tissues and to wash their hands regularly.
Latest Covid guidance
If your child has mild symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, and feels well enough, they can go to school.
Your child should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and they either:
- have a high temperature
- do not feel well enough to go to school or do their normal activities
✓ Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot and mouth disease is particularly common in kids and causes ulcers, or sores, inside or around the mouth, and a rash or blisters on the hands, feet, legs or buttocks.
While it’s not pleasant, it’s not serious and there’s no need to keep children off school if they have it.
You should make sure you child knows to throw away any used tissues straight away and to wash their hands regularly.
hand, food and mouth disease usually clears up by itself in seven to ten days.
✓ Head lice and nits
It’s very common for young children to get head lice given their heads are often close together as they play or do their schoolwork.
While they spread easily at school, the NHS says there’s no need to keep them at home.
However, parents should let their teacher know if their child has them and remove the nits through wet combing.
✓ Slapped cheek syndrome
Slapped cheek syndrome is a viral infection and usually causes a bright red rash on the cheeks.
Although the rash can look alarming, children do not need to be kept off school because once the rash appears, they’re no longer infectious.
If you suspect your child has the infection, take them to the GP and let their school know if they’re diagnosed with it.
It should clear up on its own within three weeks.
✓ Sore throat
You’re OK to send your child to school if they have a sore throat.
However, if they also have a fever you should keep them at home until it goes away.
Threadworms are tiny worms in your poo that look like pieces of white thread.
While they sound scary, they can be treated without seeing your GP and you can buy medicine for threadworms from pharmacies.
You don’t have to keep kids off school but make sure you treat everyone in your household, even if they do not have symptoms.
Ringworm is a common fungal infection in kids and normally causes a red or silver rash.
The NHS says to see your pharmacist unless it’s on their scalp, in which case you should see the GP.
It’s fine for your child to go to school once they have started treatment.
When they shouldn’t go to school
If your child has chickenpox you should keep them off school until all the spots have crusted over.
This is usually about five days after the spots first appeared.
✗ Diarrhoea or vomiting
Children with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from school for two days after their symptoms have gone.
They’re often caused by a stomach bug and should stop in a few days.
Make sure your child has lots of fluids such as water or squash to avoid dehydration.
✗ Ear infection
If your child has an ear infection and a fever or severe earache, keep them off school until they’re feeling better or their fever goes away.
Ear infections often get better on their own within three days, although sometimes symptoms can last up to a week.
A normal temperature in babies and children is about 36.4C, but this can vary slightly from child to child.
A fever is a high temperature of 38C or more – and is very common in young kids.
If your child has a fever, keep them off school until the fever goes away.
The temperature usually returns to normal within three or four days.
✗ Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever triggers flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature of 38C or above, a sore throat, swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck) and a rash a few days later.
If your child has scarlet fever, they’ll need treatment with antibiotics from the GP – otherwise they’ll be infectious for two to three weeks.
Your child can go back to school 24 hours after starting antibiotics.
Impetigo is a skin infection that’s very contagious so it’s best to keep your child off school if they have it.
You’ll need to take your child to see the GP where they can get antibiotic treatment, which helps ease the condition in seven to ten days.
Keep them off until all the sores have crusted over and healed, or for 48 hours after they start antibiotic treatment.
Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly and not to share towels, cups and so on with other children at school.
NHS guidance states children should attend school if they have coughs, colds or sore throats[/caption]