Attending school when sick can delay recovery and spread disease. It is school policy that students and staff do not come to school if they have a suspected or known communicable disease. This policy describes the signs and symptoms for gastrointestinal, respiratory and other communicable diseases as well as required steps.
Gastrointestinal (GI) infection is generally caused by a virus, bacterium or parasite, and occasionally from the toxins created by bacteria. Symptoms can start suddenly or worsen gradually. People who are sick with a gastrointestinal illness often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps
- Sometimes a person with a gastrointestinal illness may also have a rash
All staff and students should stay home if they are sick with vomiting and/or diarrhea (that is not a normal pattern) a minimum of 48 hours* after diarrhea and vomiting has stopped without the use of anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea medications such as Gravol® or Peptobismol.®
*Individuals can continue to shed the virus even if they are no longer ill.
If you become sick at school with a gastrointestinal illness (vomiting and/or diarrhea that is not your normal pattern):
- Students who have gastrointestinal symptoms upon arrival to school or become ill during the day should promptly excuse themselves from class and notify the nurse.
- Staff members who have gastrointestinal symptoms upon arrival to school or become ill during the day should promptly separate themselves from others and go home.
Influenza (the flu)
Influenza signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with the flu often feel some or all of the following symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with flu will have a fever)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The symptoms that are bolded are more common with the flu than the common cold.
All staff and students should stay home if they are sick with a respiratory illness with any of the bolded symptoms until at least 24 hours after their fever* (temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
Note: Individuals with suspected or confirmed flu, who do not have a fever, should stay home from work at least 4-5 days after the onset of symptoms. Persons with the flu are most contagious during the first three days of their illness.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and common cold.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Cough or worsening of chronic cough
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
Less common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Abdominal pain
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes
- Stuffy nose
Anyone exhibiting ANY of these symptoms should be restricted from entering the building and should connect with their family doctor or 8-1-1 and/or should go for COVID-19 testing. Testing sites can be found on the British Columbia COVID-19 Collection Centres application:
If you become sick at school
- Staff members who have flu-like symptoms upon arrival to school or become ill during the day should promptly separate themselves from others and go home.
- Students who have flu-like symptoms upon arrival to school or become ill during the day should promptly excuse themselves from class and notify the nurse.
- It is expected that children being sent home from school for illness or medical reasons will be picked up as soon as possible (within 30 minutes).
- It is recommended that families have a discussion with their healthcare provider about influenza immunizations (the flu shot). The flu shot has been shown to offer significant protection against the influenza virus, which is very contagious and can be serious. For flu clinic locations and dates in Vancouver, click here.
Other Communicable Diseases
Staff and students with symptoms of suspected or known communicable disease should be assessed by a healthcare provider prior to attending school. The symptoms to watch for include:
- Fever > 37.8 C
- Reddened/pink eye with purulent (pus) drainage
- Extremely sore throat
- Undiagnosed rash
Staff members who have any of the above symptoms upon arrival to school or become ill during the day with any of these symptoms should promptly separate themselves from others and go home.
Students who have any of the above symptoms upon arrival to school or become ill during the day with any of these symptoms should promptly excuse themselves from class and notify the nurse.
Stay Home When You Are Symptomatic
Updated June 30, 2020
- A person who is well but lives with a sick household member may still attend school unless a doctor has stated that the person is contagious.
- If a student is sick and will be absent, parents should submit the online absence form.
- If a parent is unsure whether their child should come or return to school, contact the Nurses Office.