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This Is Why It’s So Hard To Figure Out If Your Kid’s Sick Enough To Miss School

flickr / Thomas Mueller

Crumpled piles of tissues. Vomit splashes. The feeling of seeing your kid sapped of energy. There are a hundred reasons why it sucks to have a sick kid. Now, a new national poll of reveals another reason why it’s not easy when your youngster’s green: You have to decide if they’re sick enough to stay home. And that’s about as much fun as getting the flu yourself.

The survey of 1,442 looked at parents of kids ages 6 to 18. It revealed that most parents agree on reasons to keep their kids home — concerns they could become sicker, or get others sick. The more compelling takeaway from the research, however, was how sickness standards set by daycares, elementary schools, and the American Academy of Pediatricians don’t help you figure this out. According to them, pink eye isn’t a reason to keep your kid home. Neither is vomiting unless there are 2 or more episodes in 24 hours (the first may have been a warning shot). Nor is a rash, unless it’s accompanied by behavior changes, a fever, or drainage.

The problem for parents isn’t just that the nation’s pediatricians are playing too fast and loose. It’s that when it comes to following guidelines, there’s no consistency among elementary schools and daycares. Specifically, daycares often have strict exclusion policies with which they quarantine your kid, no matter what you think. In the survey, only 11-percent of parents admitted that missing work themselves was a “very important factor.” A separate poll, however, revealed that 75 percent of parents had to miss work due to these rules. Almost half said it affected their job.

Adding insult to pink eye, research shows that these policies are not always necessary or effective. That leaves you stuck between at least 2 entities that can’t agree or do anything to make your life easier. But it’s like the old adage says: Feed a cold, starve a fever, and maybe fight a daycare.