Monday, January 22, 2018
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Attendance Awareness: Does your child miss too much school?

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September is Attendance Awareness Month, and Seeding Success ‒ a partnership representing K-12 institutions and local organizations ‒ launched a campaign called “Represent Everyday” to help improve school attendance in Shelby County.

Missing nine or fewer days of school in a year is considered satisfactory attendance and is a critical component of student success at every grade. Students suffer academically if they miss 18 or more days; studies show that children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade often have trouble reading by the end of third grade.

Baptist wants to help improve school attendance by providing information on some of the most common reasons kids miss school. Below, Dr. Jeannine Hogg, director of pediatric hospitalists at the Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children’s Hospital, answers questions about managing chronic diseases, bullying and conditions that should and shouldn’t keep kids out of school.

Managing Chronic Diseases

What should parents of children with asthma do to ensure they have good attendance?

What should parents of children with asthma do to ensure they have good attendance?

It is important that parents stay on top of their child’s asthma with good control. One of the most important elements in long-term management of asthma and consistent control of your child’s asthma is having a clear asthma action plan that outlines what to do and what medicines to use in the treatment of your child’s asthma. The action plan should be followed carefully to keep the child functioning well. It is also a good idea to share your asthma action plan with people at the school so school staff is aware of your child’s condition and alerts you about any changes.

What about other chronic diseases like diabetes, sickle cell anemia and epilepsy?

What about other chronic diseases like diabetes, sickle cell anemia and epilepsy?

With all these illnesses it is important to have a good relationship with your primary care provider and clear instructions on how to manage these chronic conditions. Schools and teachers should always be made aware of their conditions and any special modifications they may need in the classroom setting. Also, always make sure your school knows warning signs for your child’s illness and has an emergency action plan in place.

What information should parents share with their kids’ teachers?

What information should parents share with their kids’ teachers?

Parents should let their child’s teachers know what chronic conditions they have, warning signs for worsening illness or emergency, and who to call if the child has issues during the school day.

How can parents stop flare-ups before they start and potentially keep kids out of school?

How can parents stop flare-ups before they start and potentially keep kids out of school?

Make sure you are following the long-term care recommendations for your child’s chronic illness and work closely with your child’s primary health care provider on keeping them healthy.

Bullying

What are some warning signs that a child is being bullied?

What are some warning signs that a child is being bullied?

School refusal, drop in school performance, increasing complaints of illness at night and in the mornings before school.

What should parents do about it to prevent absenteeism?

What should parents do about it to prevent absenteeism?

Make sure the child knows he/she can report it to you or another adult. Work with the teachers and the school to improve awareness regarding bullying among students and swiftly intervene to stop instances of bullying when they are reported at the school.

How should parents engage their kids’ teachers, guidance counselors and other school officials?

How should parents engage their kids’ teachers, guidance counselors and other school officials?

Parents should make sure they have an open line of communication with school staff. Parents should also be respectful and non- judgmental when engaging school staff, as oftentimes being adversarial with them only worsens the problem. Education of children is a partnership between the parents and community.

How should parents talk to their children about how to deal with being bullied?

How should parents talk to their children about how to deal with being bullied?

Tell them to let a trusted adult know about what happened and to avoid engaging in violent acts or escalating the situation with the bully.

What additional support should parents provide for their kids if they are being bullied?

What additional support should parents provide for their kids if they are being bullied?

Make sure your child knows you support him/her. If your child seems depressed, or if you think he/she is developing additional issues, professional counseling may be necessary. In extreme cases, if your child cannot resolve the situation after intervention from school officials, he/she may benefit from a change in environment.

Conditions that should and should not keep kids out of school

Should kids with cold symptoms stay home from school?

Should kids with cold symptoms stay home from school?

If a child has minor cold symptoms (runny nose and cough with no associated fever or vomiting) it is not necessary for the child to miss school. Teach your children to cover their mouth when they cough or cough into their sleeve, send tissue for them to use, and instruct them to wash their hands frequently to avoid passing their illness on to others.

Are kids with pink eye or head lice in danger of spreading those conditions to classmates?

Are kids with pink eye or head lice in danger of spreading those conditions to classmates?

Yes. These two conditions are contagious and can be spread by direct contact (in the case of lice) or indirect contact (rubbing eyes then touching others who also rub their eyes in the case of pink eye). In general, if you think your child has a contagious illness, you should keep him/her home from school and take him/her to a primary care provider for treatment before returning to school.

Should kids with a low-grade fever stay home from school?

Should kids with a low-grade fever stay home from school?

The medical community defines a fever as a temperature greater than 100.4°F. If a child otherwise feels well, it is okay for them to attend school with a temperature below 100.5°F.

What conditions should keep kids out of school?

What conditions should keep kids out of school?

  • Fever, especially greater than 102°F
  • Any illness that is likely to be contagious (chicken pox, pink eye, lice, etc.)
  • Vomiting or significant diarrhea

If a child wakes up with a fever or a condition that should keep him/her out of school, but gets better as the day goes on, should the child go to school late?

If a child wakes up with a fever or a condition that should keep him/her out of school, but gets better as the day goes on, should the child go to school late?

This should be left up to the family and the policy of the school.
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