This past flu season was particularly challenging for my two kids as they had more sick days than healthy days. Some parents have an array of reasons why they send their sick kids to school, but ultimately, it is our most vulnerable who cannot advocate for themselves who suffer the most.
As a parent of children with asthma, a simple cold can become a two-week ordeal involving visits to the emergency room and sleepless nights full of coughing and labored breathing; not to mention the addition of several medications to their chronic maintenance regimen. Unfortunately, this past year’s flu vaccine was not as effective as in previous years which is not in our control. Unlike the common cold, the flu can cause significant complications especially in young children (<5 years old) and those with underlying medical conditions (such as asthma) and can even be fatal.
There are currently 6.8 million U.S. children with asthma which translates to quite a few kids in our classrooms. So, the next time you contemplate “Advil or Tylenol – upping” your child for a low grade fever or symptoms suggestive of an infection, and then dropping them off at school, please consider his or her little friends in the classroom with asthma or other underlying medical conditions who are counting on you to follow the sick child guidelines to keep them safe.
If we want to teach our kids that kindness matters; if we want to be a more tolerant and inclusive society, we have to set an example. If all of us made an effort to follow the sick child guidelines (fever, vomiting and diarrhea free for 24 hours), the benefits would trickle down to everyone with fewer sick days for all.