Winter Illness Prevention

  • By Linda Grant

    Medical Director, Health Services 

    With winter upon us, we would like all of us to do our part to ensure safe, healthy, and welcoming school environments for all. It is everyone’s responsibility to prevent the spread of common winter illnesses, such as influenza or stomach viruses, in order to protect the health of our students, staff, and community members.

    Sometimes it can be difficult for parents to decide whether to send their child to school when the student is experiencing symptoms of an illness. Employees also face the same decision about attending work when they are sick.

    Below are guidelines to help families and employees decide when it is necessary to stay home. If an individual is experiencing any of the following symptoms, we ask parents to keep your child home, and for employees to stay home, for 24 hours after symptoms resolve:

    FeverTemperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Student needs to stay home for 24 hours after his/her temperature has returned to normal without any fever reducing medications, such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen.

    Diarrhea — Three or more loose or watery stools in a 24-hour period, especially if the person feels ill. Student or employee should stay home for 24 hours after the last watery stool.

    Vomiting — Two or more times during the last 24-hours, especially if the person feels ill. Student or employee should stay home for 24 hours after the last time he/she vomited.

    Persistent Coughing — Could be caused by many illnesses. Student or employee experiencing persistent coughing should see their primary care provider and stay home until it is resolved.

    Fatigue — Symptoms include lingering tiredness, paleness, lack of appetite, difficult time waking, confusion and irritability. Student or employee should stay home until he/she is well, or has seen his or her primary care provider..

    Strep Throat or Bacterial Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) — Illnesses for which primary care providers have diagnosed and prescribed treatment. Must stay home 24 hours after the first dose of antibiotics.

    If any of the above symptoms appear while at school, please call to have the student picked up or arrange for the staff member to go home. We suggest that a primary healthcare provider also be consulted. Please contact the school nurse or healthcare provider if you are unsure whether or not school should be missed due to health conditions. Remember to report the reasons the child or employee is absent to school staff.

    If you have questions or need assistance, please contact BPS Health Services at (617) 635-6788. For additional tips and resources, please visit the BPS Health Services Department website at or The Boston Public Health Commission’s website at

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