Kids Motherhood

Common Cold or Not, My Kid Will Go To School

Common Cold or Not, My Kid Will Go To School
Written by Jessica McCaslin

I’ve read several articles lately from parents and others that ask people to not send kids to school when they have a cold.

Sorry, even though I see your point, I can’t do that.

Even though I’m a stay-home mom and wouldn’t lose time off at work, or in my former job, interrupt clients who are coming to see me, I’m afraid I was raised under the philosophy “If you aren’t puking or running a temperature, you’re going to school.” (On a side note, that’s probably why girls dealing with menstrual cramps annoyed me so much; I still had to go to school.)

Back to illnesses. I’m not saying someone with a fever or who is puking should go to school. Influenza, bronchitis, strep, pink eye, chicken pox, etc. – yes, please, keep them home. I know it sucks. I’ve been there, covered in puke and snot and being coughed all over. It’s gross, and it’s a part of parenting I could do without.

However, there’s the “common cold.” I know this will sound defensive, and I probably am defending my actions. My kiddo will be attending school, snotty nose and all. Yes, it takes reminders, but I have taught them about Kleenexes and sanitizer. We wash hands. We cover our coughs.

Please, let me explain. I understand there are people out there with compromised immune systems. I also believe (note: my opinion) SOME (note: NOT all) have brought this on themselves, as they are germ-aphobic and never exposed themselves or their kids to germs. They obsessively clean house and disinfect and spray anti-bacterial stuff all over. They carry it on them. They haven’t built up any sort of defense against germs.

I also know there are people, especially kids, who end up in the emergency room because they are exposed to illnesses at school. I know they have to disinfect their homes and are physically unable to build up an immunity. I know there are parents who have to deal with lost time and lost income. I know there are some parents who fear for their child’s life.

For another view read:  Do You Send Your Child To School When He’s Sick?  This Is For You.

I also know I cannot compare my hardships to yours, nor yours to mine. It’s easier said than done. Perspective has a funny way of showing up and slamming us with its realities.

I believe my children need to attend school and activities, even if they have a cold. I don’t want to teach them that it’s okay to stay home if they feel a little stuffy because that’s not how our society works. My bosses would not have been impressed if I stayed home every time I thought a cold was coming, or even when I could prove I was sneezing and coughing. Then there are those with allergies. How do you tell the difference? Winter, yes, unless it’s animal dander, there shouldn’t be a lot of allergies in the air and the excuse isn’t a good one. But the rest of the year?

I want my kids to use their manners, like covering a cough and washing hands afterwards. I want them to understand that they can overcome difficult, yucky things in order to accomplish tasks. I want them to know that a cold is miserable but they aren’t incapable of handling it (we’ve all heard of the infamous “man-cold”).

Another problem is the “common cold” can last anywhere from days to months. How can I justify keeping my child out of school for long amounts of time? Honestly, I can’t. For work-out-of-home parents, there’s no justification for missing that much work. They’d be fired.

On a more extreme scale, I’ve seen some circumstances where the State wanted to step in and remove a child from their parents because the kid had missed too much school. Sometimes it was true – the parent couldn’t control the kid (usually teen) and truancy was a problem. But I saw a few rare cases where the State wanted to intervene, even though there were doctor notes, testimonials, and the school was backing the parent. That’s a systemic problem but one with which parents are forced to consider.

Another point I want to make is simply being a part of society. Every time we walk out the door of our homes, we are taking a risk of being exposed to illnesses. We risk being in a car accident. Heck, even staying home has its risks, as evidenced by the many recent house fires in our area. However, if we choose to live in fear, we choose not to LIVE.

Then, too, many illnesses are contagious the day BEFORE symptoms really arise. Then they stay contagious for a period of time after symptoms start (how long depends on the illness). I’m not a mind-reader, nor can I predict when my children will get ill. Children, and even many adults, don’t know how to read their bodies’ signs. I can’t even describe how many times my kids didn’t want to eat supper because they “just don’t want it,” how I made them eat most of it, and then ended up wearing it a few hours later. Unfortunately, the odds are in favor of them just not wanting to eat, rather than being sick.

I DO NOT WANT TO MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR CHILD OR AN ILLNESS DOESN’T MATTER. We all have our perspectives. I’m lucky, and I know it, because my children are relatively healthy. While I’ve done a hospital stay for a week, I haven’t endured many ER trips, years of cancer treatments, or a close call with death. I know I only get to experience illnesses in a small dose, especially compared to some families. However, that is MY perspective. It’s what I know. Based on my perspective, my child will attend school when he/she has a cold. I will promise this – if I sense it is more than a cold, I will keep them home. I won’t drug them up and send them to school, hoping no one notices. I promise.

For another view read:  Do You Send Your Child To School When He’s Sick?  This Is For You.

About the author

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a Stay-At-Home-Master-Mom who is learning to cope with the daily challenges of being a full-time parent. She graduated with her Master’s degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005.

Jessica joined Family Resources of Greater Nebraska in January 2012. She worked with children, adolescents, adults and families in and around Broken Bow, NE. Her attention has now turned to raising her children while doing online work for Family Resources of Greater Nebraska. She loves horses and has attended several Level 1 Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning trainings, where horses are used as a co-therapist for mental health issues. It’s a dream to someday be able to incorporate horses into her therapy sessions. She resides near North Platte with her husband and children.


  • Don’t send kids to school sick – Don’t miss more than three days of school per quarter. Well which is it?? My kids have asthma so when they get a cold it is worse than other people’s and might have a cough for a month or more. There were a couple years where my oldest would have had to stay home literally every day of the year for his cough ( we eventually found a medication that worked for him). But it was impossible to know when he was coughing something contagious and when he wasn’t. I think the drug ’em up and send ’em parents are few and far between, and I have a kid on my couch who threw up last night that is probably fine, but I kept him here just in case, which I think is a reasonable thing to do. HOwever, I have a friend whose child was getting motion sick on the bus and they kept wanting to send him home, so even that rule needs some common sense exceptions some times!

  • I completely agree! Of course if they are truly SICK, that is one thing. But you can’t keep your child home for every sniffle. They get several colds a year