Child Sickness Absence Decision-Making Flow Chart

As schools return we understand that parents may be anxious about what to do if and when a child develops cold symptoms such as a runny nose, cough or sore throat this winter. To help in aiding decision making, below you will find a flow chart from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health for you to use.

Evidence from the UK and internationally tells us that COVID-19 is generally milder in children than in adults: most infected children present with mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, and very few rarely develop severe or life-threatening disease. The evidence on the transmission of COVID-19 in schools is also extremely reassuring. There is good data from the UK showing that children (especially primary school aged children and younger) are about half as likely to be infected with COVID-19 than adults.

Common cold symptoms such as sore throats and blocked or runny noses are not symptoms of coronavirus so if a child has mild cold-like symptoms, they should continue to go to school.

However, in the case of:

  • A new continuous cough ( which means it is for more than three hours a day)
  • A fever
  • A or a loss of – or change in – sense of smell or taste

Then the child should stay at home, isolate for at least 10 days and be tested.

Some children with chronic respiratory illnesses (such as cystic fibrosis) may have more frequent coughs so it may be advisable that you contact your child’s specialist for further advice and guidance.

As with every year, it is also important that children practise handwashing and good hygiene measures to help stop the spread of all virus such as the flu during the winter period. If your child is eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine (usually given to all primary aged school children or those in an at risk category) then please consider that they have this as it provides the best defence against the flu virus.