School exclusion

Many illnesses are infectious, meaning they can be spread easily from one person to another.

When your child catches an illness, there will be an incubation period before they show symptoms. Some illnesses are infectious before symptoms show; some are infectious even after symptoms have disappeared.

To stop sickness from spreading, it is important for you to keep your child at home when they are ill, and not let them go to school or preschool. How long they should be home depends on what sickness they have.

This page explains what to do for some common childhood illnesses.

Campylobacter

  • Symptoms appear after 1–10 days
  • Infectious until well – possibly 2–7 weeks if not treated with antibiotics
  • Keep child home until well and for 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting

Chickenpox

  • Symptoms appear after 2–3 weeks (usually 14–16 days)
  • Infectious from 5 days (most infectious in the last two days) before the first lot of blisters until all spots are crusted – usually 5 days after they appear
  • Keep child home for at least 5 days and until all the spots are crusted over

Conjunctivitis (viral/bacterial)

  • Symptoms appear after 2–10 days
  • Infectious while there is a discharge from the eyes
  • Keep child home while there is a discharge from the eye and/or until 24 hours of treatment

Croup

  • Symptoms appear after 2–6 days
  • Infectious until fever settles
  • Keep child home until fever settles

Cryptosporidium

  • Symptoms appear after 1–12 days
  • Infectious until well and usually several weeks after
  • Keep child home until well and for 48 hours from the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Do not use a public pool for 2 weeks after symptoms have resolved

Gastroenteritis (viral)

  • Symptoms appear after 1–3 days
  • Infectious while vomiting and diarrhoea last, and up to 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Keep child home until well and for 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting

Giardia

  • Symptoms appear after 3–25 days
  • Infectious for usually 4–6 weeks but can be many months if not treated
  • Keep child home until well and for 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting

Glandular fever

  • Symptoms appear after  4–6 weeks
  • Infectious for up to 1 year or more
  • Keep child home – no official recommendation, but should wait until well enough to return to school/preschool

Hand, foot and mouth

  • Symptoms appear after 3–5 days
  • Infectious while the child is unwell and possibly longer because the virus is present in faeces (‘poos’) for weeks after
  • Keep child home if unwell or with blisters in or around mouth, especially for children under 2 years who may dribble. Children over 2 years with only 1 or 2 blisters on their hands or feet that can be covered can attend school/preschool

Hepatitis A

  • Symptoms appear after 15–50 days, usually 28–30 days
  • Infectious from 2 weeks before signs appear until 1 week after jaundice (skin yellowing) starts
  • Keep child home for 7 days from the start of jaundice

Hepatitis B

  • Symptoms appear after 6 weeks to 6 months, often 2–3 months
  • Infectious for several weeks before signs appear until weeks or months later; some people are infectious for years
  • Keep child home until well or as advised by doctor

Impetigo (school sores)

  • Symptoms appear after 7–10 days
  • Infectious until 24 hours after treatment with antibiotics or until sores have healed
  • Keep child home until 24 hours after treatment has started or as advised by doctor or public health nurse

This topic sheet was provided by Healthline.

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