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Sick Child Etiquette

It’s hard, having a sick child. They’re sick, you need to go to work, you don’t want to take a day off. The hardest part is deciding when sick is ‘too’ sick.

Let’s break it down.

Your child has a sniffly nose that’s been hanging around for a week. They’re upbeat, have no temperatures or other concerns, are eating and sleeping and playing as usual. They’re probably fine to head to care that day.

Your child had temperatures the night before. They’ve woken up with  a cough alongside their temp and aren’t quite themselves. It’s  recommended they stay home as it seems the start of a sickness. If they go to care, ensure to be honest and tell your child’s educators so they know to take precautions and be prepared to have to pick them up, but try to be proactive and avoid sending them in the first place.

Your child was vomiting the night before. They’ve woken up ‘ok’ but with a temperature. You’ve given them paracetamol their temp has gone down, and they’ve regained energy. Avoid sending to care. Anything contagious treated with paracetamol means masking symptoms. Childcare Educators see it all too often, a child comes in ok, and 4 hours later as the paracetamol wears off, they crash. The unfortunate aspect of this by this time, no one knew they were unwell, which means they’ve spread germs to others as no exclusion precautions have been taken. Not only other children, but elderly grandparents who come to pick up, to newborn infants. You won’t see the effect of this, but it can severely impact on others.

If their symptoms are new and multiple;

If they need panadol to feel ok;

If they can’t participate normally in their day;

They’re not ok for care.

We also need to think of the Educators. Our hard-working Educators who work tirelessly every day – They can’t be a one-on-one nurse. They don’t have time, they can’t leave their class, they can’t have other priorities. Obviously sudden illnesses are another matter – They happen and the Educators do their best and make it work. But if it can be avoided, they appreciate it immensely!

Every childcare across Australia follows the guidelines of ‘Staying Healthy in Childcare.’ This resource outlines illnesses and their exclusion period. Ultimately – if you send your child in unwell, the educators can rule them too sick and will need to be picked up. You will need a Doctors note if you don’t believe they’re unwell, but they can still overrule this if they believe the illness is a threat in their Policies and Procedures. Most illnesses have a 24 or 48 hour exclusion period, in which case Educators will let you know.

We all know how hard it can be when you’ve already taken too many days off – you’ll have too much work to catch up on tomorrow – you can’t miss an important meeting – your boss will be angry. What can you do about that?

It’s a great idea to pre-plan these occurrences. If you absolutely cannot take a day off work, you might have an on-call nanny or babysitter – someone in university, or a stay at home mum, or a grandparent – someone who can care for your kids on short notice. This heavily reduces germ contact and is a great alternative than sending into daycare. You might be able to see if your boss will allow you to work from home if applicable – many bosses can be understanding of children.

At the end of the day, if you were in your child’s shoes – would you be too sick to feel comfortable at work? That’s the same as they’d feel in care. All kids want is their bed and a cuddle – and we really, really do appreciate you being proactive.

Wishing you all the health!

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