Monday morning I woke up feeling ill. I had experienced a stressful weekend so decided to go to work anyway, figuring that my nausea, etc. was a result of stress. My boss agreed and I taught my class, leaving a half hour early that day.
As I was resting that afternoon, my son found me and announced he had just vomited in the toilet. Terrific, I thought. Not only is this NOT stress, but I probably just spread it to a class of unwitting preschoolers.
Most childcare centers are required to send children home who show signs of illness until they have been symptom-free without medication for 24 hours. It's been my experience that this policy causes a tremendous amount of confusion and frustration for parents. If the child isn't running a fever, why can't they go to school? He only threw up once last night, what's the big deal? Everyone has green mucous once in awhile.
I personally have a condition that compromises my immune system, and am at a much higher likelihood to catch whatever comes into the classroom, even after all these years. I've had children in my classroom with all sorts of medical conditions that could be extremely dangerous should they catch bronchitis, the flu, or whatever is going around. In other words, the rules are in place to keep EVERYONE healthy, not just your child.
When my kids are sick, and even when they were young, my thoughts were always in the mindset of, "Could they possibly infect another child?" If the answer was yes, they stayed home. If the answer was no, my next question was, "Do they feel well enough to go to school?" Did they seem to have the stamina to complete the day's activities or were they dragging? Did they seem worn? I have one child who only slows down if she's extremely ill. We know when her speed goes down to dragging, it's time to go to the doctor, stat.
In trying to keep our kids--and ourselves--healthy, there are several steps we can take. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise are important. Sleep is important as well, and most of us, including children, don't get enough of it. All of these are important for overall general good health. But even more important is the regular washing of hands. Teach your children how to wash hands. I know a lot of people don't buy into the whole handwashing thing--anyone who's been in a public restroom can testify to the fact that there are tons of people out there who do not wash their hands. But here's the proper way to wash: Turn the water on; wet your hands and apply soap; scrub for twenty seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday or the ABC song), then rinse. Dry your hands on a paper towel and turn the water off using the towel. In public places, this is the safest way to avoid germs that spread and keep your family healthy. Wash your hands whenever you enter or leave a public room, use any public surface, use the restroom, before and after you eat, and whenever you get any substance on your hands. In cases where you lack appropriate facilities, hand sanitizer will work until you get to a sink.
Sounds like a lot of work? It is. But it's a lot better than trying to force gatorade down a sad little preschooler as you're missing a much needed day of work.