48 Hour Sickness Rule – Reasonable Or Ridiculous?

48 Hour Sickness Rule – Reasonable Or Ridiculous?

Despite a vast history of allergies and other medical conditions, we are usually quite lucky when it comes to bugs and germs. The children very rarely come down with sickness bugs. When they do, thankfully it tends to be over and done with pretty quickly. Within a day they are usually absolutely fine again. However, thanks to the 48-hour sickness rule they end up having unnecessary days off school. Every day that they attend school is vital to their education and nothing annoys me more than the rare occasions where they miss a day because they were sick, once, over twenty four hours ago.  

Now don’t get me wrong, having them home is lovely. Entertaining them when they are full of beans and the to-do list is endless? Not so much. If a child is sick on a Sunday morning, once, and they keep all food and drink down for the rest of the day. There is no temperature and no diarrhea – should they really miss a day of school? The 48-hour sickness rule simply doesn’t account for one-off occasions of sickness. It puts every occurrence of sickness under the same umbrella.

Children who vomit several times, of course, should remain away from school until the vomiting has stopped. However, if a child is sick once, not necessarily because of a bug, and the parent deems them fit enough for school, why should a school argue that?

And what about attendance? School’s are determined to reach a certain % threshold each week/term for attendance, yet lack the ability to accept that not all sickness is caused by fast-spreading bugs and germs. Not only that, in some schools, pupils are awarded certificates for attendance, therefore many children won’t receive an attendance award because the 48-hour sickness rule forced their parents to keep them off for two days unnecessarily.

I do get it, nobody wants their child to be unwell. As parents we spend our lives trying to keep our children safe, happy and well. But why should children have to stay away from school for 48 hours after vomiting or diarrhoea when the cause of the ailment would have been lying in wait long before the expulsion of bodily fluids began or not caused by contagious germs at all.

Kids will be kids, adorable, but often pretty disgusting. They share stuff, lick stuff, bite stuff and spread snot like marmalade. No amount of incubation or segregation will halt the spread of germs.

With the likes of chicken pox, hand foot and mouth, common coughs and colds and viral infections rife amongst children at this time of year, I think it’s time we focused on incubating the problems that actually NEED to be incubated. I can’t help but feel that the world has become a little too sterile.

What do you think about the 48 hour sickness rule? Do you think its reasonable or utterly ridiculous? I’m quite sure you can guess which side of the fence I sit on after reading this post, but I’d love to read thoughts from other parents. Please feel free to let me know in the comments below.

48 Hour Sickness Rule - Reasonable Or Ridiculous?


  1. 28/01/2019 / 11:50

    My girls are at secondary school and they don’t have the 48 hour rule. As soon as they are well enough they have to go back to school which is great because my two rarely get tummy bugs and are only sick once if they get a migraine. In fact my teen was sick a while ago at school and didn’t even get sent home. It was something she had eaten and she felt OK thankfully.
    My rule is if they are feeling OK and have been sick only once they go to school, any more and I will keep them off for 48 hours.

  2. Dee
    28/01/2019 / 21:02

    I wish we had a 48 hour sickness rule! I see kids whose parents are quick to drop off their kids back at school
    as soon as a fever has passed when they are still spreading germs via coughing and sneezing. What may be a mild illness to some kids can be a really big deal for kids with other chronic conditions like Asthma or T1D and could land them in a hospital. Norovirus (“stomach flu”) is especially contagious and quite dangerous for kids with T1D. Actual illness may only last a single day, but people are contagious from the first moment they feel sick and typically up to 3 days (some people even still are contagious for up to 2 weeks) after they’ve fully recovered – so for that virus, you don’t spread the germs before you feel sick, but you carry and spread them for a long time after recovery – hence the importance of that 48 hour rule. For kids managing other chronic illness, that mild stomach bug, minor respiratory illness, means a stay at the hospital. All that said, I think it needs to go hand in hand with better supervised hand washing, use of face masks during recovery (like they do in Asia) and no academic punishment for sick days. No one should be rewarded or punished for missing or not missing school due to illness.

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