How Sick Is Too Sick?

In my years in schools and daycare, I sent home kids who met the state requirements for exclusion from care who barely seemed sick at all.  I also had kids at school who didn't meet the requirements for a call home who clearly were much sicker than some of those same kids who's parents had no choice but to come pick them up.  I've dealt with angry parents because their kids kept getting sent home and angry parents because their kids kept getting sick from kids who shouldn't have been at school in the first place.

Now I'm on the other side and trying to figure out when to go and when to stay is already giving me a headache.  One of the things about Caleb that I know as his mom is that he takes a long time to recover from small illnesses.  When he was a baby and in daycare he was one of those kids who was always sick because he picked up every cold that wandered by and often took weeks to feel better.  I remember one particularly rough winter where we spent a week in the hospital and had no less than 7 ER visits for his asthma because we just could not control it.

I was home with him for a couple years full time and it was so nice to just be able to let him hang out and rest without worrying about missed work for Mom and Dad, or missed school for Caleb.  When he started his first semester at a Montessori preschool we quickly found he was missing more school than we felt comfortable with and health was definitely a factor in our decision to make home school our norm.  Since then, not only has he been sick so much less he has also been able to just rest and recover in his own time without pressure to get back to normal quickly.

Now he is in school again.

Benefitting from school.

And missing school.

Two weekends ago he started fighting a cold.  After pushing through for a couple days, I let him stay home Wednesday last week to rest hoping to be proactive and let his body heal but he has continued to get worse every day since then to the point he can't walk across the room without coughing and has a fever.  We add more meds, lay around reading and watching TV when he's home and while he went to school yesterday and then end of last week (because he can't miss a week of school every time he gets a cold, right?) he is home again today.

My dilemma is two-fold.

First off how do I keep him from getting sick?  He is already a diligent hand washer because of his Celiac Disease and he knows that helps prevent cross contamination.   We do vitamins and probiotics and our diet is pretty clean.  He is on an inhaled cortico-steriod for his asthma which is supposed to help his lungs respond better.  In the past we have been more aggressive with meds, but have weaned him down in the past few years.  I'm wondering if we need to re look at that since he will be out and about more this winter.

Secondly, how much do I keep him home versus push him to go?  One of the challenges of Caleb's quirkiness is that not going for more than one or two days really messes with his routine, which means he starts to lose his coping skills we've worked really hard on in the last few months.  He also tends to translate changes in routine as new rules as opposed to exceptions to rules and then balks at the return to the old status quo.  Not to mention the one day he missed last week led to almost an extra hour of homework.  I have a hard enough time with 1st grade homework as it is....enforcing an extra hour for every day he misses is really not on my agenda.

So if you have any brilliant ideas I would really love to hear them!  I know that there are obviously tons of kids with all types of asthma, Celiac Disease, and other auto immune diseases and illnesses that go to school and function great, but I could really use some help figuring out how to make that happen without going crazy!


NJ @ A Pocket Full Of Dinosaurs said...

I think that it will probably even out soon. I think that anytime a kiddo goes from being at home (and therefore exposed to less germs) to a school/daycare setting (and exposed to more germs) there is a period of adjustment on their body as they build up their immune system more.

Our general rule of thumb is to send DS to school if he fits within their guidelines. So no fever above 100 and no goopey irritated eye. I feel like my son has a constant runny nose and always some sort of minor cough but I don't let those things keep him home if his temperament appears to be steady.

Would it be possible to chat with the teacher about the homework situation on missed days? I mean if he's grasping the concepts that were missed in class does he really have to do all of the papers? Seems ridiculous to me..

Good luck!

Signed, long time lurker and first time commenter.

Heidi said...

Welcome Long Time Lurker! Thanks for your thoughts and I like the idea of talking to the teacher about the homework- they send home everything they did that day which does seem excessive.