Yeah, I get it. You have stuff to do every single week day, and to do those things your child needs to be in school. You have work, meetings, perhaps a trip to the gym or a long run scheduled.
But your kid: a)puked last night, b)puked this morning, c)had the runs in the last 24 hours, d)has pink eye, e)is running a fever over 100ºF, or f)has a serious case of the sniffles, a sore throat, or a crazy cough.
Gosh! Don’t they know they don’t have time to be sick! You’ve got stuff do to!
So, you send your child to school and instruct him to call you if he feels worse.
Congrats! You have just made the school day a literal living hell for your kid’s teacher.
As soon as your sick kid walks in the door, that teacher knows it. The green face, foggy eyes, obviously exhausted demeanor all give it away. Immediately, she assesses the situation:
“Hey buddy! Are you feeling ok?”
And your child responds with whatever symptoms she has: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, headache, so stuffed up she can’t think or breathe, hacking cough, throat so sore she can barely talk. At that moment, the teacher knows.
She knows that this kid will probably do nothing all day long, and will retain nothing that is learned today. She knows that she is in for a day of Lysol wipes and avoiding your kid’s general area for fear of contracting his disease. She knows that there will probably be vomit on her classroom floor at some point in the future. She knows that she will in all likelihood become ill within the next 24 hours to 72 hours, and starts prepping those sub plans.
I’m sure that you had the best of intentions in sending your kid to school. Maybe there was a big test, or a project due. Perhaps you had a meeting or a presentation to give. Maybe you thought: He’ll have a lazy day and get something out of school.
I’m here to tell you that a sick kid gets little to nothing out of school. They are so exhausted from the whole body struggle against the germs that they can’t focus. They are so distracted by the constant need for tissues or worrying if that burp or fart will actually be puke or poop that almost everything goes in one ear and out the other. Just reading simple instructions is a challenge.
Nothing will get accomplished that is meaningful. Nothing that is taught will be fully understood.
Plus, your kid will be spreading those fun germs to at least 20 other kids and their lucky teachers! So what started out as just some bug your kid picked up from who-knows-where is now a plague that is infecting the whole class, perhaps the whole grade or even the school.
I’ve seen it. Last year, a third grade colleague had 18 of her 22 students out of school over a two week period. At one point, she had FIVE actual kids in her room. That means that no learning was accomplished because reteaching two weeks of content to the majority of the class makes no sense. Then, she got sick. After trying to struggle through a few days of school while sick as a dog, she called in a sub. My colleague was out for two days, extending the period of not learning.
If you think that YOU can’t miss that big presentation because you are ill, imagine the guilt and stress involved in a teacher being out. For many corporate jobs, you can postpone the meeting, throw up an out of office email response, and maybe do a little work from home.
There is no work from home option for teachers.
Instead of rescheduling those meetings or setting the out of office message, teachers must carefully construct 8 hours of educational content for your children. She must make enough (plus extra) copies of every single assignment for the whole day. She must arrange for a sub, and pray that someone picks up the job. And she has to do all of this while feeling extremely ill.
Then, when she is actually home and supposed to be resting, she is instead stressed out about the kids. What if that one acts up? What if someone pukes? What if there is a fire drill? Did I prep them for a lockdown? Did I leave enough stuff? What if no one shows up?
Teacher sick days are more like teacher stress days. Teachers literally have no time to be sick or out of the classroom. Young lives depend on their presence each and every day. Test scores, and in some states jobs or raises, depend on those kids learning as much as possible between September and June. There is no time to be out with a stomach bug or serious cold. Missed time is wasted time, and wasted time is not ok.
So, those reasons you had for sending that sick kid to school? Teacher’s don’t care. Tests can be rescheduled, projects can be presented late.
If your kid is sick, keep your kid home! Like for real. Don’t send them for a little bit. Don’t “see how she does.” If your kid has:
- fever over 100º
- vomiting in the last 24 hours
- diarrhea in the last 24 hours
- pink eye
- severe sore throat not due to allergies
- severe cough or cold
- the flu
- extreme exhaustion due to any of the above
For the love of all that is good in this world: Keep your kid home.
Should you send your child to school, the following will happen:
- germs will be spread to the other students and staff, leading to more sick kids and adults and more time spent NOT learning
- your child will not be productive or learn in a meaningful way
- your child will be uncomfortable and stressed, leading to a longer recovery from this illness
- your child will be sent to the health or nurse’s office for a health check
- your child might be sent home during the school day, calling you out of work
So, for real, just keep that sick child of yours at home until: the puking has stopped for 24 hours; the diarrhea has ceased for 24 hours; the fever is down without medication; and the cold has subsided enough that she can breathe.
Your teacher will love you for using common sense when your kid is ill.