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Why send your child to school when they're ill?

PUBLISHED: 13:22 08 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:03 08 June 2018

You may need your child to get on with it when they've been poorly, but sending them to school is just selfish. Picture Getty Images/iStockphoto

You may need your child to get on with it when they've been poorly, but sending them to school is just selfish. Picture Getty Images/iStockphoto

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If they’re ill, keep them away, writes Jo Malone

Sunny has never forgotten that her cracked elbow growth plate wasn’t diagnosed for four days because I didn’t get it checked out.

As we left hospital with her arm in a sling I apologised, adding that I didn’t think it was serious because she had barely mentioned it.

“There wasn’t much point,” she said.

I’m not known for my sympathy and I guess it did follow sending her to school with severe whiplash the morning after another school mummy drove into our stationery car at ‘about 50 mph’ as she admitted.

Maybe I was pushing the ‘if you’re not ill you’re going to school’ mantra too far, but she wasn’t ill, she was injured. 
Her elbow and neck were not, I felt, going to stop her from learning - nor interfere with other children.

I’m similar with her little sisters, although I am a bit swifter at heading to A&E, if only to avoid those sideways glances and extra note taking when I tell the medical team that they hurt themselves a few days earlier but I thought they’d live.

(However I’ll never turn into the mum we waited next to in A&E who had brought her toddler in because he’d walked face first into a spider’s web and… and nothing, that was it.)

But sending your child to school when they are clearly not only under the weather, but carrying something nasty – why?

School is school, teachers aren’t nurses. We’re all busy. Why send your child to school with sickness or diarrhoea? What makes those parents think they are more important than anyone else?

Don’t blame ignorance either, it’s common sense to keep your child away from the public, and that includes their classmates and teachers, until 48 hours after the last bout.

Yes, a child unexpectedly at home can be inconvenient. But it’s selfish to knowingly expose other people’s children, and families, to your child’s lurgy.

Not everyone is as robust as your child who you say is ‘fine really’ or ‘was only sick once or twice’.

I know of cases where children were sick in school – and back the next day. Over the next week swarms more children could be struck down – and sometimes be frighteningly poorly. Some could pass it on at home to even more vulnerable members of their family. Some children and families could have important events coming up and could be in danger of missing them if they caught that bug.

I’ve heard of occasions where it gets so bad that head teachers have to remind everyone of the 48 hours stay-away rule. Parents shouldn’t need reminding, headteachers shouldn’t have to spend their time stating the obvious.

What’s the excuse? School isn’t free childcare, it’s not there so we can get on with our lives.

If your child is sick or has a bad cold, keep them away from mine.

You’re a parent, be one.

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