When to send children to school, or keep them home

When to send children to school, or keep them home image

Home » When to send children to school, or keep them home

With children now back at school and levels of winter illnesses including flu, COVID-19 and norovirus continuing to rise, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) is reminding parents to follow UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) simple steps to reduce viruses spreading in the community.

Spot the signs of when to keep your child at home

While children are encouraged to stay in education or childcare with symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or slight cough (if they are otherwise well and do not have a high temperature), they should stay home from school or nursery if they’re displaying the following symptoms:

If your child has a fever and is unwell, they should stay home from school or nursery until the fever has passed and they are well enough to attend.

If your child has diarrhoea and/or vomiting, they should stay off school or nursery for at least 48 hours after their symptoms clear up – this will help stop the spread of stomach bugs.

At this time of year, other types of illnesses that circulate include scarlet fever and chickenpox, as cases usually peak in late winter and early spring.

Symptoms of scarlet fever include sore throat, fever, swollen neck glands, a bumpy rash on the tummy, flushed cheeks and ‘strawberry tongue’. If you suspect your child has scarlet fever, contact your local GP; and if diagnosed stay away from nursery or school for 24 hours after the first dose of antibiotics.

Chickenpox is highly contagious, with the most common symptom being an itchy, spotty rash. If your child has chickenpox, keep them off school until all the spots have crusted over.

Get vaccinated

Vaccination offers the best protection against flu and is given as a quick and painless nasal spray for children. However, vaccine uptake amongst pre-school children is one of the lowest, despite the illness being more serious for this ages group in some cases.

Children eligible for the flu vaccine include:

  • children aged 2 to 3 years old on 31 August in 2023
  • all primary school-aged children (reception to year 6)
  • secondary school-aged children (year 7 to year 11)
  • children aged 6 months and older with long-term health conditions

Similar to the flu vaccine, there has been a drop in uptake of routine childhood immunisations, which protect children against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and polio. You can take a look at the childhood vaccination schedule to make sure your child is up to date with all their vaccinations.

Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, deputy chief medical director and clinical lead for children’s and maternity services at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:

“With children recently returning to school it is vital that they are vaccinated against flu and infectious diseases. Getting your child vaccinated not only keeps them safe, but all your family members – particularly older grandparents who may be vulnerable to the potentially dangerous complications of flu – and the wider population.

“The fast and easy nasal spray has proven to protect children who need it most, with the NHS offering it to the majority of children this year.

“The MMR vaccine is safe and effective, offering protection against measles, mumps and rubella which are dangerous, highly infectious illnesses which can cause serious complications.  Your child should have received two doses of the MMR vaccine before reaching school age, and you can check this in their personal child health record (red book).

“Vaccination is free, safe and effective, and it can protect your child from a nasty illness this winter.”

View all news

Latest news and highlights

News

23 April 2024

COVID-19 Spring 2024 Vaccination Programme Update      

The COVID-19 spring programme will continue to focus on those at greatest risk of getting seriously ill, who will benefit the most from a further…

News

22 April 2024

Local NHS organisations take the lead as world marks Earth Day

As the world marks the annual Earth Day (Monday 22 April), NHS organisations in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have shown the way forward by…

News

16 April 2024

Local GP urges eligible patients to get Spring COVID jabs

People in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes who are eligible for a COVID-19 spring vaccination have been advised that they can now book an appointment or attend a walk-in clinic,…

News

10 April 2024

Tackling health inequalities in the Roma community

Translation services, better communication and an understanding of how to access health and care services could break down barriers and improve the health of Roma people, according to a report…

News

5 April 2024

Leighton Buzzard Update – 05 April 2024

In our last update in February 2024, we were pleased to discuss the Winter Pressure Clinics delivered in the Town. These clinics, which finished at the end of March 2024,…

News

28 March 2024

Bedford Warm Homes scheme improves health and reduces carbon emissions

53 households with residents who have a chronic health condition in Bedford Borough have benefited from a local scheme to enhance their domestic fuel efficiency, which will not only improve…