PSA from a Paraprofessional

As a special education paraprofessional and an aftercare counselor, I love all of the kids under my care. What I don’t love is caring for them when they’re sick. Not because I’m heartless or ignorant. But because I shouldn’t have to. School does not equal infirmary. Most schools only have one nurse who cannot be preoccupied by a single sick student for an entire day. All schools provide parents with guidelines regarding sick students, typically including for which symptoms a student can be sent home. While parents can also look this information up online, some will still not know, and some with just ignore it.

Keeping sick kids home isn’t a punishment for anyone. It’s so the sick child can rest in the comfort of their own home surrounded by people they know without unnecessarily infecting the general population. Why certain people have yet to grasp that, or worse have yet to care, I do not understand.

In case you were wondering, these are the symptoms most schools will tell parents to take/keep students home for:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unidentified or contagious rash
  • Unidentified or contagious illness

Schools typically require students to be symptom free without medication for at least 24 before returning, or provide a signed doctor’s note stating otherwise. As a nursery caregiver, we sent a girl home with diarrhea at 10:30am on Thursday & sure enough her mom brought her back 10:30am on Friday… I can’t make this up & I don’t have to…

This awful new mindset is: “I’m the only one.” (I’m the only one who matters. I’m the only one who can break the rules. Etc.)

Pro Tip #1: You’re not the only one. You aren’t an exception. It’s not cute. It’s not ok. You’re being an asshole & that’s how the teachers feel.

Pro Tip #2: Start teaching kids before / as they start school is the importance of hygiene. Hand washing is our #1 defense against the spread of germs. Blowing your nose is a tricky concept, but kids can do it. At least get them started reaching for the tissue rather than their sleeve.

Pro Tip #3: Cut & file your kids’ nails regularly to keep them short. Kids’ nails are thin and sharp and for many kids they are a weapon of choice. Unless you keep them short. Long nails harbor germs & if the child breaks skin can cause infection. + The only way for kids to get used to things like getting their nails cut is to do it regularly and from a young age.

The best way to appreciate your child’s teacher is to listen to them.