Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas announced on Monday it will add a mental health unit to the hospital. The unit will include a 24-bed inpatient unit as well as an intensive outpatient program. It also plans to bring Texas Child Study Center, a Dell Children’s outpatient clinic that is a partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, within the Dell Children’s building.
The project is being led by a $3 million matching challenge grant by Nyle Maxwell and his family. The new unit will renovate the second floor of south wing of the hospital, and be called The Grace Grego Maxwell Mental Health Unit at Dell Children’s. The renovations are expected to cost about $7 million. Construction is expected to begin in the next six to nine months and be completed by spring 2018.
Including this gift, the Maxwell family has given more than $10 million to the hospital, which opened in 2007, and its predecessor. “As with most families who are challenged with raising children in this complicated environment we have today, mental health is a challenge,” said Nyle Maxwell, former Round Rock Mayor and owner of the Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships. “My family is not immune to this.”
The new unit will allow Dell Children’s to coordinate different levels of care. Right now, patients in mental health crisis come into the emergency room at Dell Children’s, where they stay until they are moved to the 24-bed pediatric unit at Seton Shoal Creek Hospital or another local hospital. Then their care is moved to somewhere else for partial hospitalization or residential treatment or outpatient care.
“Right now, there is very little continuity of care once you leave Dell Children’s,” said Dr. Sonia Krishna, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Dell Children’s Medical Center.
While the new unit will not provide partial hospitalization and residential treatment when it opens, the hope is that eventually it expand to be able to. What it will be able to do is give patients in the psychiatric unit access to medical care without having to be transported back to Dell Children’s for care because they will already be at Dell Children’s. They also will have access to other Dell Children’s programs such as its school.
Once the pediatric unit opens, if a patient is already being seen by a Dell Children’s doctor on an outpatient basis, they can be admitted to the inpatient program without having to go through the emergency room. Or they can start at the emergency room, be admitted to the inpatient unit and then continue on an outpatient basis under the same roof.
Krishna says the hope is that care will be coordinated more closely and actually decrease the number of inpatient hospitalizations needed. The new unit doesn’t add any existing pediatric psychiatric beds; instead it moves the beds from Seton Shoal Creek to Dell Children’s. Shoal Creek is an older facility and plans are being considered with nothing definitive about where to move the adult beds there.
Eventually Dell Children’s psychiatric unit will focus on general acute psychiatric, substance abuse, eating disorders, and autism and other developmental disorders.
Coordinated care would have made a difference in Kate Peoples’ teenage years. The Austin 26-year-old, was diagnosed with anorexia as a 15-year-old and had to be treated in Dallas and then New Orleans and eventually Miami. Her family, she says, had to piece together care for her because there wasn’t one place she could go. “It’s really exciting to see Dell Children’s step forward and give the continuum of care that I didn’t get,” she says.
She’s now getting her master’s degree in social work at University of Texas.
What’s going around right now? A lot: strep, some flu, but also a lot of cold viruses with an upper respiratory infection and of course, RSV.
How do you know if it’s a cold versus something more? Dr. Rachel Osborne, a pediatrician and internist at Baylor Scott & White Health — Georgetown, says often a cold or upper respiratory infection has these symptoms:
A wet sounding cough
A runny nose with clear to yellow fluid
No fever to a low-grade fever of 99 to 100
And it’s highly contagious, spreading to multiple family members easily. Wash your hands frequently. Give Tylenol or Motrin if there is a fever and try to do some nasal spray or drops to flush everything out, and use a bulb syringe on kids that are too young to blow their nose. (Yes, we know, kids love that! Osborne suggests doing that when they are asleep if you can.)
How do you know if it’s reached infection stage where antibiotics would be needed? When it doubt, of course, see your doctor, Osborne says. “I don’t think it’s ever wrong to have parents bring their child in to be seen,” Osborne says. She’d rather give reassurance and education about signs to look for if a cold progresses rather than miss something potentially serious.
Upper respiratory infections aren’t fun, but doctors really worry about lower airways infections like bronchitis or pneumonia. Many of the symptoms are similar as the ones above, but some other symptoms might be:
A fever of 100.4 or more
Possibly a wheezing sound like they have asthma
It’s lasted a week or more.
Kids that get frequent infections can develop reactive airway disease and eventually asthma. Doctors give an inhaler for that.
Know these warning signs that your child need to be treated immediately (it’s all about the breathing):
If they are breathing fast.
If the skin between their ribs is going in and out
If there are other signs of struggling for breath like lips turning blue
If they are extremely lethargic
Doctors will do a chest X-ray to look for infection as well as swab the nose. They might give fluids and oxygen.
Other signs to look for that mean it’s not just a cold:
A fever of 102 or greater.
Anything lasting more than 10 days.
Severe facial pain or pain in the gums that’s lasted three days or more (sinus infection).
A really bad sore throat that makes it extremely painful to swallow and that doesn’t usually come with nasal congestion (strep).
A barking cough (croup)
A high-pitched or whistling sound when they breath (croup).
If you suspect croup, try to keep kids calm and get seen by a doctor. Croup typically happens in kids 6 months to 5 years old and they might need steroids or an epinephrine shot to open up the airways.
Of course, with cedar fever and other allergies, symptoms can look and feel a lot like a cold. Those symptoms are:
She’ll be speaking more about respiratory illness on Feb. 17.
Managing respiratory Illness
Join Dr. Rachel Osborne, MD, pediatrician from Baylor Scott & White Health for a free discussion on managing respiratory infections and illnesses in children. Learn how to tell the difference between the common cold, allergies, croup, asthma, and winter-time “crud.”
When: 10:30 a.m. Feb. 17
Where: Baby Earth – Round Rock, 106 E. Old Settlers Blvd., D-100, Round Rock, Texas 78664
Information: RSVP requested. Please call 844. BSW.DOCS to register. Learn more at healthspeak.sw.org.
Working breast-feeding mothers of Austin, get ready to be jealous.
Last week, we visited one of two Mother’s Rooms at IBM’s Austin offices and met with Carlie Bower, who is program director for cloud platform development. When she returned to work, Bower pumped breast milk for her son Elian, who is now 19 months old, as well as milk she donated to Mother’s Milk Bank of Austin. She plans to do the same for her daughter, who is due in July.
The Affordable Care Act requires any company that is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide a place, not a bathroom, for new mothers to pump breast milk and the time to do it. The room had to be “shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
Before the act, we had mothers like myself pumping in nasty bathrooms, or makeshift spaces in conference rooms or closets. The room I pumped in after both of my pregnancies was a single bathroom with a shower across from the photo department. I would stand in the hallway outside of the room waiting for the room to be free. When it finally was, it smelled, and then I got to hear my male co-workers pounding on the door while I pumped. They couldn’t understand why anyone would take that long to use a bathroom.
Now offices have dedicated spaces, though many not as nice as the ones at IBM. The new Mother’s Rooms in Austin opened last fall as part of a renovation of the Austin offices, but the company has them at it’s other locations, too.
Before the Mother’s Rooms opened, Bower used her office to pump, because she’s lucky to have an office with a door. But she didn’t have a sink for cleaning pump parts and washing her hands. She also would have to kick people out of her office to pump, which made for some awkward situations: like having to announce that “we need to continue this meeting by conference call.”
“Breast-feeding is wonderful, but it’s a huge commitment for any mom, but once you add working mom dynamic, it adds that much more challenge and complexity,” Bower says.
What does IBM’s Mother’s Room have that makes me so jealous?
• Three different smaller rooms with an outlet, dimable lights, a comfortable chair, side table, and a lockable door. One of the rooms also has a desk for working.
• Lockers for storing pumps and larger supplies.
• A refrigerator with individual bins for storing milk. Each bin has a combination lock.
• More bins with locks for storing extra pump supplies in the cabinets.
• A sink and counter for keeping everything clean.
Some of the IBM Mother’s Rooms at other locations also have provided breast pumps. Workers just have to store their pump parts like hoses, bottles and suction attachments on site. Some even have extra parts employees can use if they forget theirs. IBM’s health insurance also pays for a pump for each new breast-feeding mom.
Not all the Mother’s Rooms have multiple rooms inside, but when it’s just one big room, employees can use the conference room reservation system to reserve time.
Bower, who has had to travel for work, has used the rooms at other locations as well. She’s also been able to take advantage of IBM’s concierge-style breast milk shipping system.
Traveling IBM employees can use an app to arrange for the breast milk they pump to be shipped home. IBM sends a cooler and shipping materials to an employee’s hotel, one cooler for every day she will be at that location. With the push of a button, the coolers keep the milk cold for up to five days.
All an employee has to do once she gets to a location is pick up the boxes when she checks into her hotel, fill the coolers with milk, and then give the labeled boxes to the hotel’s business office to be overnighted to her house.
Before IBM began the concierge service, breast-feeding moms either didn’t travel, or they would need to bring Baby and a caretaker with them, or they would have to figure out how to keep milk cool and travel with it through airport security or how to keep it cool and shipped home.
IBM also has a program to reward people who volunteer in the community. Bower and two other IBM employees were able to turn their time pumping and donating milk for Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin into a volunteer team. IBM rewarded their volunteer hours with a $2,000 donation to the bank.
It’s going to be a beautiful end of January weekend, with sunny skies and highs in the 60s. Hooray!
Here are some fun things to do this weekend with your kids:
Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Friday.Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org.
Tinkering Tots: Let’s Create a Soundscape. 9:45 a.m. Fridays for 2-year-olds; 10:45 a.m. Friday for 3-year-olds. $20 a class. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Wildflower Center. Nature Play Hour. Play in the Family Garden. 11 a.m. Saturdays. Winter Tree Fest. Celebrate trees and climb one in the arboretum. There will be s’mores. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org.
Baby Bloomers for kids infant to 3. Study light this month. 9 a.m. Saturday. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
BookPeople events. Cynthia Levinson reads “The Youngest Marcher.” 2 p.m. Saturday. Story times. Paramount Theatre. 11:30 a.m. Saturday.BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
Barnes & Noble 11 a.m. Saturday story times at all locations: “I’ll Never Let You Go,” Saturday.
Harry Potter Party. 2 p.m. Saturday, Howson Branch of the Austin Public Library.
Saturday and Sunday
“The Thing in Grandma’s Closet.” Pollyanna Theater presents this story of two siblings finding something mysterious in their grandmother’s closet. Best for third- to fifth-graders. 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $10.50-$13.50. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org
Hill Country Science Mill. Fact or Fiction Scavenger Hunt. Gather your team for the ultimate scavenger hunt at the Science Mill. At least one person in the group will need a smartphone to participate. Free with admission. Saturday and Sunday. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org.
Plush Pillows. Sew a pillow. For ages 8 and up. 11:15 a.m. Saturday-Sunday. $8. Digital Bling. For ages 8 and up. Sew a creation with bling. 1:15 p.m. or 3:15 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
It also will be a great weekend to take the kids on a hike or for a picnic. We recommend:
Stop in at the Austin Nature & Science Center and hike along the trails behind the aviary.
See the peacocks at the Mayfield Park and then hike a trail along the lake.
Try out the disc golf course and the playground at Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park.
Walk along Lake Pflugerville at Lake Pflugerville Park.
Play in the Family Garden at the Wildflower Center, explore the trees in the arbor and hike along the meadow trails.
This month the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency encouraged pregnant women, breast-feeding women and children to eat more fish, with the caveat that it be the right kind of fish.
The released a handy chart that identifies which fish are best choices, good choices and choices to avoid. It’s all about the mercury levels in the fish.
The new recommendations:
Eat two to three servings a week of the best choice fish or one serving of the good choice fish.
Eat a variety of fish.
Children should eat one to two servings a week beginning at age 2 (though there’s no reason to avoid fish or shellfish before age 2).
If you eat fish you caught or fish that is caught by a friend or family member, look for fish advisories. If there’s no advisory, have only one serving of that that week, and no other fish.
And what’s a serving? 4 ounces for adults, 2 ounces for children.
Tilefish (Atlantic Ocean)
Tuna, albacore/white tuna, canned and fresh/frozen
What should you avoid?
Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
Where the fish comes from matters as well as what variety of a species, too. The rule of thumb is those larger predator fish tend to have more mercury because all the mercury from the fish they have eaten has built up in their tissue.
Why is mercury such a worry? It can cause neurological problems. When a doctor suspects that something might be happening neurologically with a child or baby, they often will do a blood test to rule out high levels of mercury and for lead.
Dr. Albert Gros, the chief medical officer at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center who is also an obstetrician/gynecologist, warns that even with this list, pregnant women should still not eat sushi. “Eating raw fish can make you susceptible to parasites and bacterial infections,” he says. He’s seen that with raw oysters and Hepatitis A.
But they should eat cooked fish because fish are a great source of protein and Omega 3, which is important for brain development. “There was a concern about pregnant women not eating as much fish as they should or sometimes children as well,” he says.
The new recommendations help people know how to safely eat fish, and the good news for kids: the fish in fish sticks are on the best choices list. Eat up!
Austinite Kat Kronenberg’s new children’s book “Dream Big” (Greenleaf Book Group Press, $15.95) takes us to Africa, where Baboon sets out to crush the dreams of all the animals around him. The caterpillar dreams he can fly. The tadpole dreams he can dance. The flamingo chick dreams she will be beautiful. The termite dreams of a home with friends and family.
Of course, all these dreams come true and more as the animals wish upon a star and grow.
Kronenberg will read and sign her book on Sunday at 4 p.m. at BookPeople. 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
“Dream Big” is the first of three books Kronenberg has planned. On katkronenberg.com, she also has activities such as making a drum and a Catch-M to catch a star.
If you’ve been searching far and wide for the pacifier that your child used in the hospital, you can now actually buy them. JollyPops, which are BPA-free and made of hospital-grade silicone are now available at Target, Babies “R” Us and CVS and at myrazbaby.com. They sell for $4.99 for a pack of two and come in newborn and 3 months an older sizes.
Here are FIVE not to miss events for kids in February, plus many more to choose from.
H-E-B Free First Sunday: Weather Fest.
Learn how weather is made, ask a meteorogist your weather questions, catch a cloud in a jar with GirlStart and more. Free. Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 5. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com
Make a homemade kite to fly in the Zilker Kite Festival in March. 1-3 p.m. Feb. 11. Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane. 1-3 p.m. Feb. 25, Northwest Recreation Center, 2913 Northland Drive.
This year’s theme is Common Threads. Learn more about reality augmentation, exploring Mars and surviving Hollywood. Free for middle schoolers and high schoolers and teachers, $50 adults. Noon-6 p.m. Feb. 11. Westlake High School Performing Arts Center, 4100 Westbank Drive. www.tedxyouthaustin.com.
The Mo Willems story comes to the stage. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Feb. 18 through April 30 (except March 11). 11 a.m. Saturdays April 15, 22, 29. Sensory-friendly and sign-language interpreted, 2 p.m. March. 4. $16-$21. Zach Theatre’s Kleberg Theatre, 1421 W. Riverside Drive. zachtheatre.org.
Domain Northside Kids. Come to the lawn at the Domain Northside for activities for kids 18 months to 6 years old. Free. 10 a.m.-noon Feb. 1. domainnorthside.com
Father Daughter Dance. 6 p.m. Feb. 4, Hancock Recreation Center, 811 E. 41st St.
Valentine’s Day Card Making. Make cards for Austin Children’s Shelter, Dell Children’s Medical Center and more. 5-7 p.m. Feb. 7. Dittmar Recreation Center, 1009 W. Dittmar Road.
Community Health Fair. Make Valentine’s Day crafts, learn about resources and get a free healthy meal. 4-6 p.m. Feb. 14. Montopolis Recreation Center, 1200 Montopolis Drive.
Parents’ Night Out. For kids ages 5-12. 6-10 p.m. Feb. 14. $10. Hancock Recreation Center, 811 E. 41st St.
Ballet Austin’s Stories & Music in Motion —Valentine Fun. For preschoolers and parents. $15. 11 a.m. Feb. 8. Ballet Austin’, 501 W. Third St. balletaustin.org.
“The World According to Snoopy.” See Snoopy and the Peanuts gang on the stage. $18-$8. Patti Strickel Harrison Theater, Texas State Univeristy, San Marcos. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14-18, 2 p.m. Feb. 18-19. txstatepresents.com
“The Ugly Duckling.” Lightwire Theater aka Dino Light tells the story in neon light. $17. Paramount, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org.
“The Thing in Grandma’s Closet.” Pollyanna Theater presents this story of two siblings finding something mysterious in their grandmother’s closet. Best for third- to fifth-graders. 2 p.m. Feb. 4-5. $10.50-$13.50. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org
“Skippyjon Jones Snow What.” This twist on “Snow White” comes to life. $15-$12. Noon Feb. 11. One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Cave Road. oneworldtheatre.org
“Puff, the Magic Dragon.” You know the songs and the story. $12-$18. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org
Bullock Museum. Living History Day. Texas historicla figures wander the museum. 10 a.m. Feb. 2. Little Texans. Drop in and play for ages 2 to 5. 10 a.m. Jan. 12. Science Thursdays. Hands-on activities from Central Texas Discover Engineering including boat races. 10 a.m. Feb. 16. Story time. For ages 2 to 5. Learn about the new year. 10 a.m. Feb. 23. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com
Neill-Cochran House Museum. Sunday Funday: The Pop-Up Book. Make what was considered multimedia before the tablet. 1-4 p.m. Feb. 5. Free. Neill-Cochran House, 2310 San Gabriel St. nchmuseum.org
Thinkery. Early Learner’s Workshops: Silly Science. Make materials that bubble and foam and change color. 9:45 a.m. Feb. 20 (1-year-olds); 10:45 a.m. Feb. 20 (2-year-olds); and 11:45 a.m. Feb. 20 (3-year-olds). $20. Little Thinkers Club: Art Start: My Many Colors. 9:45 a.m. Wednesdays for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. Wednesdays for 2-year-olds Feb. 8-March 29. $20 per class. Tinkering Tots: Build the City! 9:45 a.m. Fridays for 2-year-olds; 10:45 a.m. Fridays for 3-year-olds Feb. 10-March 31. $20 a class. Baby Bloomers for kids infant to 3. Study the garden this month. 9 a.m. . Special guests throughout the month. $5. Soap Making. For ages 4 and up. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. or 3:15 p.m. Feb. 4-5, Feb. 18-20. $8. Art Bots. Make recycled robots. For ages 4 and up. 11:15 a.m. Feb. 11-12, Feb. 25-26. $8. For ages 8 and up. 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Feb. 11-12, Feb. 25-26. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Contemporary Austin. Families Create! A-MAZE-Ing Paper. Find your way through a temporary maze and make three-dimensional paper art. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 11. Free. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. thecontemporaryaustin.org.
Hill Country Science Mill. Dr. Kold’s Freezing Science Experiments. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 11. Grandparent’s Day. Grandparent’s get 50 percent off. Feb. 19. Homeschool Day. See special demonstraations. Feb. 8. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org.
Texas Museum of Science & Technology. Wee-Searchers for children 5 and younger. Learn about Astronauts Feb. 8 and Fabulous Fossil Finds Feb. 22 through song, play and stories. 9 a.m. Feb. 8 and Feb. 22. Science Saturday: Ancient Tech. Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 22. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org
Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Family Day. Make art, hear a story and more. Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 12. Free. Kids Kraft Clay Creations. 9 a.m. Feb. 18 kindergarten-second grades; 11 a.m. Feb. 18 third-fifth grades. $15. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road. umlaufsculpture.org
Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. Nature Play Hour. Play in the Family Garden. 11 a.m. Saturdays. Families Down Under Cave Tour. 9:30 a.m. Feb. 4. $10-$15. Children’s Book Fair. Meet authors and celebrate books. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 18-19. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org.
PBS Kids at the Alamo Valentine’s Mix. 10:40 a.m. Feb. 12. Lakeline, 10 am. Feb. 12 Slaughter Lane. drafthouse.com
BookPeople events. Ellen Hopkins read “The You I’ve Never Known.” 7 p.m. Feb. 3. Write Like An Animal Workshop for ages 5-9. 10 a.m. Feb. 20. Natalie Grigson reads “Just Call Me Is.” 2 p.m. Feb. 25. Jon Lasser and Sage Foster-Lasser read “Grow Happy,” 2 p.m. Feb. 26. Story times. Baby signs, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 1; Giveaway story time, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 4; Dogs vs. Cats, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 7; Ms. Staci, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 8; Love is in the Air, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 11; Milly McSilly, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 14; Tiny Tails to You, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 15; Dream a Little Dream, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 18; Armstrong Community Music School, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 21; Preposterous Puppet Show Players, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 22; I Can Do Anything, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 25; I’m Not Afraid of the Dark, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 28. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
Barnes & Noble Events:“The Lego Batman Movie Event,” 2 p.m. Feb. 25, Sunset Valley, Round Rock. Saturday story times at all locations: Disney Reads Day, Feb. 4; Valentine’s Day, Feb. 11; “Mighty, Mighty Construction Site,” Feb. 18; Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss, Feb. 25.
Mommy, Daddy, and Me Book Club. 11:30 a.m. Feb. 18. George Washington Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St.
Tabletop Tuesday: Family Boardgame Night. 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7, Feb. 14, Feb. 21, Feb. 28 Faulk Central Library.
Art Smart: Chinese New Year Dragon. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7, Willie Mae Kirk Branch; Heart Collage. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Willie Mae Kirk Branch. Echoes of Africa. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21, Willie Mae Kirk Branch; Pet Rocks. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28, Willie Mae Kirk Branch.
A University of Michigan poll of parents found that there are many differing views about when a child should stay home from school because of illness. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health found that 75 percent of the parents they asked had kept kids home from school at least one day in the last year. Most cited their child’s health as the reason, though about half worried about their child infecting another child.
They also weighed other non-illness related worries when deciding whether to keep a kid home from school or day care: 37 percent of parents worried about what their child would be missing if she didn’t go to school, though that was typically parents of older children. 11 percent of parents worried about missing work and 18 percent worried about not having someone to watch their sick child.
When it came to illness, parents said they would not send a child to school with these symptoms:
Diarrhea (80 percent agreed)
Threw up once (58 percent)
Slight fever (49 percent)
Red watery eyes, no fever (16 percent)
Runny nose, dry cough, no fever (12 percent)
So, what are good rules of thumb about when kids are too sick to attend school?
We asked Dr. Danielle Glade, the medical director at St. David’s Children’s Hospital when you should keep kids home.
The three biggest factors are:
Whether or not your child is contagious
Whether or not he can participate
We’ve all heard that we should never send a child with a fever to school. Where does that come from? Viruses are most contagious when there is a fever. “Also a fever is miserable,” Glade says. “It’s hard on the kids to do anything with a fever.”
Don’t give your kid with a fever Ibuprofen or Tylenol and then send him to school when the fever is gone. He probably is still contagious and the fever will come back.
If your child has thicker nasal secretions, it could be a sinus infection. That would be a reason to see a doctor, but often nasal secretions or cough is not a reason to miss school unless it is severe. Don’t forget to teach kids how to cough into their sleeve, though.
What about a rash? Well, that depends on what is causing it. If it’s poison ivy, then yes, it’s spreadable, and you’ll want to get that under control to not share it. Often a rash is an indication of an illness and it’s the illness to worry about, not the rash itself. Now is also the time that kids get a lot of eczema. That is not a reason to stay at home.
And lice? Treat it immediately, to lessen the chance of spreading it, but chances are, your child has already shared it. See you at school.
With all symptoms, you’re looking at the big picture, Glade says. “Does the kid have a reason to have a nervous stomach? Was there a disagreement with friends? It’s about context and severity.
“If anything, parents feel the need to keep kids out of school longer than necessary,” Glade says.
If your kid is fever-free for 24 hours, send them. Don’t wait for the cough and runny nose to go away because that could take weeks.
Right now Glade is seeing a lot of respiratory viruses, rhinovirus, coronaviruses and parainfluenza (but not the flu itself). They all are similar: runny nose and cough.