Illnesses and Communicable Diseases

  • Illnesses

    Is my child well enough to go to school?
    Many students and parents are frequently concerned about when students should stay home or attend school.  You can expect your child to be ill 5-7 days during a school year.  Remember that a child ill with an infectious disease can spread the disease when in contact with others in the family and the community.  The following information is intended to help with this decision:

    If student is absent due to illness, please call the ISD 728 Attendance Line at 763-241-3555 daily to report illness.

    Students should stay home from school when:

    • A fever (100.4 degrees or higher)
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Rash of unknown cause (check with health care provider)
    • Infection requiring antibiotics

    A student can return to school when:

    • No fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and well enough to participate in school.
    • No vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours after the last episode and ability to keep food down.
    • Rash is cleared by a physician.
    • 12 hours after the first antibiotic dose, symptoms have resolved and/or as directed by a health care provider.

    When students are ill at school, an attempt is made to first contact the parent and then the name listed on the student emergency information. If you have any questions regarding the above information or your child’s illness, please call your school nurse or family physician.

    Communicable Diseases

    Please notify the school if your child has a contagious condition such as chicken pox, strep throat, or whooping cough.  To effectively communicate with parents regarding communicable diseases, our system has changed.  We will no longer be sending paper letters home, but rather will be sending notices via Campus Messenger.  Notices will only be sent when 10% of students in a school building have contracted the illness/disease (i.e. strep, pink eye, etc.).

    Chickenpox (Varicella)
    Chickenpox is a viral illness.  The symptoms include a rash beginning as red bumps turning into blisters, and possibly a fever.  Exclusion from school is until all blisters have dried and formed scabs, about 6 days after the onset of the rash.

    COVID-19 is a disease caused by coronavirus germs that pass easily from one person to another. COVID-19 affects a person’s nose and throat and can sometimes affect a person’s lungs and can make it hard to breathe normally. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, fatigue, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include stomach symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Exclusion from school only if fever is present. It is recommended to follow the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines if you test positive for COVID-19 infection. 

    Fifth Disease
    Fifth disease is a mild, common viral rash illness.  Early symptoms are generally mild and may include a sore throat or low-grade fever.  When the rash develops, it often appears on the cheeks (a slapped cheek look) and moves to the arms, upper body, buttocks, and legs.  The rash on the body appears fine, lacy, and pink and is more pronounced with exposure to heat or sunlight.  Exclusion from school only if fever is present. Children do not need to stay home from school if other rash-causing illnesses are ruled out by a health care provider. 

    Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
    Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease is a viral infection causing a blister-like rash.  Symptoms include a low-grade fever, sores/blisters on hands, feet, in mouth, and sometimes on buttocks.  These sores may last 7 to 10 days. Exclusion from school is until fever is gone and child is well enough for routine activities. Sores or a rash may still be present. 

    Head Lice
    Head lice are not dangerous and do not transmit disease.  Children attending preschool or elementary school are the most commonly affected because they tend to play close together. Health Services staff are knowledgeable regarding head lice eradication.  Our goal is to support families when faced with a head lice infestation and minimize classroom disruptions due to head lice.  For additional information, refer to "
    Head Lice 101" and "Facing Head Lice". Symptoms of head lice include itching of the head and neck. Live lice crawling. Eggs (nits) are tiny in size (eye of a small needle) and are gray or white in color. No exclusion is required but it is recommended that the child be treated for head lice. The child should be encouraged to avoid head-to-head contact with other children. 

    Impetigo is a contagious bacterial skin infection often occurring on the nose, arms, legs, or around the mouth.  Sores begin as small fluid-filled blisters but rupture quickly, producing a thick golden-yellow discharge that dries, crusts, and sticks to the skin.  This infection is common in young children and is easily spread from person to person by touching the fluid from the sores.  Exclusion from school is until 24 hours after treatment begins and sores are drying.

    Influenza-like Illness
    Influenza-like Illness is described as symptoms of a cough or sore throat and a fever of 100 degrees or greater.  Other symptoms may include chills, body aches, headache and a runny or stuffy nose. The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is that children can return to school 24 hours after their fever is gone without fever-reducing medication, and they are feeling well enough to participate in school.  Flu symptoms may last 5-7 days.

    Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
    Pink Eye is a common infection involving redness, itching, pain and drainage from the eyes; a fever may also be a symptom. No exclusion is required unless the child has a fever or is not healthy enough to participate in routine activities. Antibiotics and/or a note from a health care provider are not required to return to school. 

    Ringworm is a fungal infection of the body, scalp, hair, or feet.  Ringworm on the body appears as flat, spreading ring-shaped areas on the skin.  If lesions can be covered, no exclusion.  If lesions cannot be covered, exclusion from school is until 24 hours after treatment begins.

    Scabies is an infestation of the skin caused by a tiny, insect-like animal called a mite. The female mite burrows under the skin to lay her eggs. Symptoms include intense itching (especially at night) and a rash of pink bumps or tiny blisters most commonly seen between the fingers, on the hands, knees, elbows, armpits and around the waist.  Exclusion from school is until 24 hours after treatment begins.

    Strep Infections
    Strep throat and scarlet fever (a strep infection with a rash) are common bacterial infections in young children.  Symptoms of strep throat often include a fever, red sore throat, and swollen glands.  Headache, nausea, and stomach pain may also be more common in children.  If your child is positive for strep, they must be on antibiotics for 12 hours and fever free for 24 hours before they can return to school.

    Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
    Whooping Cough is a persistent bacterial cough illness.  Common symptoms include a cough that occurs in sudden, uncontrollable bursts, high-pitched whooping sounds, and vomiting after a coughing spell.  Exclusion from school is until they have finished 5 days of antibiotics, unless they have been coughing greater than 3 weeks.  Whooping Cough is a reportable disease through the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).