The Nursery Sick Policy – what’s in and what’s out?

In the recent nursery quarterly questionnaire we had some feedback that our sick policy was a bit heavy handed and so we’ve reviewed this.

At the nursery we have always wanted to stay pretty much in line with the Health Protection Agency guidelines and stay in keeping with best practice, having said this we have also used our childcare experience in cases like conjuncitivus which can spread like wild fire in a nursery baby room. 

We have reviewed what our policy says and we are going to trial sticking to the HPA guidelines but adding an extra caveat that if we have more children being diagnosed then the nursery manager will take the decision to keep the children at home until they are not contagious.

This is a real balancing act, we never like to refuse entry to a child, as we know that we are there to offer a childcare service however, we also know that if a child is in nursery who spreads illness then everyone takes off more time. We have had anecdotal feedback in the past that children have spent less time off with us overall than at other nurseries the family has moved from, as we have been pretty clear what’s in and what’s out!

We propose we run this as a trial for up to six months and if the level of sickness hasn’t increased then we could run a parent group on this to get your feedback.  What do you think?  Are you in agreement with a trial or are you happy with the way the nursery’s policy is run now?  Let us know what you think, so we can get it right for you.


  1. crumbwl says:

    I am happy with the policy as it is …. and I think that being ‘heavy handed’ is the way to ensure that sickness is kept as low as possible.

    It is not fair on the child who is ill (why would you take your sick child to nursery? They should be at home cuddling with Mum or Dad), on staff or on the other children to have sick children in nursery full stop.

    Staff should feel able to turn children away if sick children arrive. Keep up the ‘heavy handedness’ I say!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree, keep the current policy. I do not want my child exposed to more illnesses where possible, she has had enough already (as have we parents e.g: 4 doses of conjunctivitis!!!). The guidelines on the health protection agency allows children with headlice, tonsilitis, glandular fever, conjunctivitis and more into nursery. Personally I would not dream of leaving my child to nursery if they had any of these. I am a full time working parent, I understand the challenges that comes with and the work commitments that can suffer but child and consideration of other childrean and their families should come first.

  3. Emma Tennant says:

    Thanks for the comments so far. Its great to get your thoughts and feedback. I think what we should do is be transparent with where we were being more stringent than the HPA guidelines and then do a survey asking everyone if they would like a policy change or not.
    Kind regards
    Emma Tennant

  4. edwinb says:

    I am undecided about this issue but I think a 6 month trial is a good very plan. The HPA guidelines are evidence based and seems like a sensible basis to work from. The fact is that with a lot of these illnesses the other children in the room will have probably been in contact with the infection before the sick child starts to have symptoms/is diagnosed anyway. In addition the sick child may be excluded from nursery anyway if they have a fever or are ill in otherways. I think it is a good thing that you are acting on parent feedback and are proposing a pragmatic way forward.

  5. nbeas says:

    I totally agree that policies should be there to be followed by all parents. I also agree that in most cases the children are contagious before the bug etc is evident. My issue is with temperatures, if a child has a temperature of over 38 they are sent home, even if they are coping with the day. If a child needs 1:1 of course they should be sent home but if there is a temperature evident and the child is coping and seems OK, the situation should be monitored on an individual basis as to the child being sent home or not.

  6. nicole.odell says:

    It’s really good to see that lots of you are taking an active part in reviewing the sick policy. I have been doing some research on children’s temperatures. A temperature is defined as 38c in our policy and this is when we decide to send a child home. Research shows that a temperature of 38 or higher is a sign of a bacterial or viral infection. The body raises its temperature to make it harder for the virus or bacteria to survive. Research also shows that children’s temperatures can rise and fall very quickly. We chose to send children home once their temperature reaches 38 even if they seem ok in themselves as a temperature is a sign of infection and could rise rapidly. Below are some links on the research I have used:

    Kind Regards
    Nicole Odell

  7. emma-matthews says:

    Wow there is some really good discussions going on here. I think the temperature debate has been a ongoing one and Nicole’s research really defines why our policy is 38c.
    I definately think there is arguments for and against our policies that as a management team we need to review and make sure we are doing what is best for our children and families.

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