Illness, coughs and colds – Childcare providers have exclusion periods for a reason
Put children together and you will get illness. It’s a well-known adage that schools are ‘germ factories’, so it’s no different for nurseries, either. There will be those people who will say that this is completely natural, that a certain amount of exposure to illness is a good thing for children. Maybe, to some extent, they are right.
The Nursery: A great potential Bug factory
In an environment like a nursery, where it is not necessarily the same children each day, there is such a great potential for a variety of (possibly similar) illnesses to be introduced into the environment. When a cold or the flu goes around a class at school, it’s often one particular virus. In a nursery, however, multiple illnesses can more easily be introduced. There are two reasons – beyond the obvious – that this can be a really bad thing.
Go onto any parental discussion forum about ‘illnesses’ and ‘nursery’ and you are almost guaranteed to find someone asking “Is it normal that my child has been constantly ill since he / she joined nursery?” The answer to that is: “Yes, but it shouldn’t have to be.” A little illness doesn’t have to be a bad thing, necessarily, though a lot of illness almost always is.
Secondly, nurseries usually deal with a range of ages, starting with very young children. Although the babies are kept separate from the other children, germs are not necessarily respecting of closed doors or sectioned-off areas. They tend to find a way. Very young children with smaller bodies and less developed constitutions can be very susceptible to certain illnesses. In other words, it can be more dangerous for them to get ill.
Lightening up a little – A responsible approach to germs, bugs, coughs and colds
The aim of this post is not to put people off from placing their children into nursery – heck, no! What is hoped for instead, is a sense of responsibility, community-mindedness and well-informed decision-making. Children are usually in a nursery for a good reason. That reason may be socially or educationally motivated, but it is also often financially motivated. People have to work.
Taking time off while you wait for your child to get better can be frustrating and costly, wearing the grandparents’ patience thin – especially once one of them picks up a bit of a cough – can be awkward, so when can your child return to nursery?
Many would say a straightforward cold is no reason to keep a child from nursery, but do try and use some judgement. If it’s possible to keep them off for a day or two when they first show symptoms, it may help to stop them spreading the illness. Depending on their age, it can also be really valuable to teach them about covering their nose / mouth when they sneeze or cough, and about using a tissue. Washing of hands is also invaluable.
Talking about more serious illnesses
There are many other illnesses, some of them are features of childhood which do require children to be off for a good period of time, often until all symptoms have disappeared. These include; Chickenpox, Measles, German measles, Mumps and any respiratory infections. The general rule for diarrhoea and vomiting is 48 hours from the last instance.
Need a little further guidance?
Further information is available on recommended treatments and exclusion periods for various types of illness, conditions, infections and viruses. Public Health England have a PDF online which forms a fairly comprehensive guide for parents.
We accept that illness is a part of life, and that life must go on. Nurseries are there, in part, to ensure that life goes on for parents. But if sensible guidelines are followed concerning the illnesses that children inevitably develop, the nursery can be a happier, healthier place for your child to be.
Image Credits: Timoteo71