Health/Wellness » Illness Facts/Resources

Illness Facts/Resources

Learning and health go hand in hand. In order for children to learn, they need to be in school. Ill children have difficulty staying focused and on task in the classroom. Notify your school when your child is ill or has a contagious disease.
Please contact your family health care provider or school nurse with questions about the information given here. This information is designed as a guideline and explains the Valparaiso Community Schools illness protocols. This is not a substitute for advice from your family health care provider.

Conjunctivitis (eye infections)

There are many causes for this inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the inner surface of the eyelids and the whites of the eyes.
  • Symptoms may include: tearing, irritation/itching, redness, burning, increased sensitivity to light and discharge (green or white) from the eye
  • Causes may include: virus, allergies, fungus, irritating substances, bacteria or foreign body
  • Transmission: contact with discharge from eye or upper respiratory tract of infected person. Indirect contact with contaminated fingers, clothing, eye makeup, towels or washcloth.
  • Control the spread:
If there is a history of pus from the eyes or the red eye does not clear in 2-3 days, contact your health care provider for treatment. You may return to school when the redness is gone, your physician states you can return or after you have been treated with the medication for 24 hours. Please return the diagnosis and name of any medication prescribed to the school.

Impetigo is an infection of the skin's surface, usually caused by group A streptococcus or staphylococcus aureus. It is highly contagious.

What to Look For
  • Discolored spots or circles that may have small blisters, bacteria-containing fluids spreads to surrounding areas as blisters break, and honey-colored loosely adherent crusts form
  • Most frequently found on face (around the nose and mouth) and fingers
  • Itching occurs
  • Skin around the impetigo lesions may be red
How to Treat
  • Infection can be treated by application of over-the-counter antibotic creams
  • Caution, do not use these medications if there is a known allergy, contact your physician
  • Gently wash area with antibacterial soap and water
  • Apply ointment as directed
Other Recommendations
  • Good hand washing
  • Keep fingernails short
  • Do not share personal care items (towels, wash cloths)
  • If around the mouth, get a new toothbrush
Continue treatment for 3 days after the area appears healed. Return to school 24 hours after treatment has begun, or with a physician's release. Inform the school nurse of the medication being applied at home.


What to Look For
  • Ring-shaped pink patch, scaly, raised border, clear center, usually 1/2 to 1 inch in size, mildly itchy
How to Treat
  • Over-the-counter antifungal creams
  • Apply as per package directions (this can be done at home)
  • Apply medication one inch beyond its borders
  • Continue medication for one week after the area appears healed
Contact Physician
  • The infection does not clear in 4 weeks
  • The ringworm continues to spread after 1 week of treatment
  • The scalp is involved (Oral medicine will be needed)
Other Recommendations
  • Good hygiene and good hand washing
  • Don't share personal items (hairbrushes, clothing, towels)
  • Call veterinarian for pet treatment advice
  • Avoid close contact with pets
Ringworm of the skin has a low rate of contagion. After 48 hours of treatment, it is not considered contagious. If untreated the area should be covered until treatment is started. You may be in school if under treatment.

Infection Disease Prevention in Contact Sports

MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in Athletics

Transmission of MRSA among sports participants is a concern. Possible risk factors for infection include close physical contact, skin damage, and sharing of equipment or clothing. The risk for transmission of MRSA is much greater among sports participants than among students in a classroom. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published the following guidance for preventing staphylococcal skin infections in the sports setting:
  • Athletes must report skin lesions to coaches and athletic trainer or school nurse. Athletes should regularly assess for skin infections.
  • Cover all wounds. If a wound cannot be covered adequately, consider excluding players with potentially infectious skin lesions from practice or competitions until the lesions are healed or can be covered adequately.
  • Encourage good hygiene, including showering and washing with soap after all practices and competitions.
  • Ensure availability of adequate soap and hot water.
  • Discourage sharing of towels and personal items, such as clothing or equipment.

Head Lice

  • The parent/guardian has the ultimate responsibility to ensure their child is free of live lice and (live) viable nits. The parent is responsible for the care of their child's scalp and hair.
  • The parent should carefully check their child's scalp and hair once each week. Many people think that itching is a good indicator of evidence of lice. However, the first infection may produce NO signs or symptoms for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Head lice can be found on any person of any age (primarily ages of 3-11 years), race, gender, or socioeconomic class. Infection is not a sign of poor hygiene or living conditions.
  • Avoid head-to-head contact. Although not a common source of transmission, avoid sharing articles such as hats, combs, brushes and hair implements (head bands, barrettes etc.)
  • Prevention is a lot less costly, in time and money, than treatment.
  • Lice are human parasitic insects, about the size of a sesame seed, that live on the scalp and lays eggs in the hair.
  • Lice are fast crawling and range in color, from translucent and/or nearly colorless- with small brownish patches along the sides of the body-to almost totally black.
  • Eggs (nits) attach to the hair with strong quick-setting glue.  Nits should be removed, but are not a cause of school exclusion. 
  • A louse can hold its breath and hang on for some days when immersed in water. Just washing the hair does not get rid of lice.
  • The leading cause of treatment failures is IMPROPER USE OF PRODUCTS. Read instructions carefully.
  • Consult with a nurse, pharmacist, or physician and purchase treatment. READ INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE STARTING TREATMENT.
  • Check the scalp and hair of all members (including adults) of the immediate and extended households. Pay special attention to the crown of the head, behind the ears and at the nape of the neck. Treat only those with active infections. Notify other homes where your child spends extended periods of time (day care, babysitters etc.)
  • Consult your health care provider before treating young children and infants, if one is pregnant or nursing, if one has special health conditions such as seizures, neurological problems, asthma, and/or allergies.
  • At the same time, treatment and nit removal are performed:
    Wash on the HOT cycle all clothing, towels, bed linens, soft toys, used in the last 3 days, by all persons infected. Dry on HOT cycle FOR AT LEAST 20 minutes.
    Dry clean or store in tightly sealed plastic bags (14 days) items not machine washable.
    Vacuum all carpets, upholstery, mattresses, and cloth car seats. (Discard bag)
    Soak all combs, brushes, and hair implements for 20 minutes in hot water, at least 130 F. Items may be soaked for one hour in rubbing alcohol or Lysol.
    Do NOT use lice sprays. This can be harmful.
    Do NOT use lice removal products to prevent lice.
Nit Removal ~ Key to Success!
Nits may be removed using a "nit comb" or a cat flea comb. Taking ½ inch sections of hair, comb from the scalp out to the end of the hair. Wipe the comb on a wet paper towel. Pin up the completed section and continue with the next section. Nits may be removed by using the fingernails or clipping the individual hairs. Discard paper towel and disinfect comb when finished. Continue to comb for live lice and nits and check hair daily. Lice hatch EVERY 7-10 days. Change and launder pillowcases, pajamas, and towels during this time.

Repeated lice infections usually mean: improper use of products, treatment failure/resistance to product, live lice and/or live nits have not been removed properly or failure to regularly inspect the scalp and hair.

Fifth's Disease
Erythema infectiosum (Fifth's Disease) is a mild childhood illness characterized by a facial rash (slapped-cheek appearance) and a lacelike rash on the trunk and extremities, which may come and go for several days. There may be mild systemic symptoms 1 to 4 days before the rash onset. Infection, in pregnant women, with the virus, which causes Fifth disease, may be related to early fetal death (miscarriage). The estimated risk in an epidemic situation is less than 1%. There is no known relationship to congenital anomalies in live birth infants.
Children with signs of Fifth's Disease are past the infectious stage and do not present a risk for further transmission. Therefore, exclusion from school is not recommended by the Center for Disease Control.

Streptococcal Disease

Streptococcal disease is usually transmitted by sneezes, coughs, or contact with secretions from mouths and noses. The main reason for concern about strep throat is the risk of developing rheumatic fever. This risk is markedly reduced by prompt treatment with antibiotics. If your child has a fever, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting with or without a rash, please keep him or her quiet, away from others, and consult your doctor so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and treatment started if necessary. Students with strep infections may return to school after they have been on antibiotic treatment 24 hours and are fever free.


Scabies is produced by a mite that is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. The mite burrows just under the skin where it lives for 1-2 months, laying eggs along the course of ¼ - 1” tunnel which it creates. Usually the eggs hatch in 3-5 days and the larvee leave the tunnel to hide in the skin pores. After 4-10 days they develop into adults, mate, and the cycle is repeated.

The infestation is not often noticeable at first, but after a month or six weeks a rash or skin eruption occurs. This usually involves the hands, wrists, external genitalia, buttocks, and inner thighs. The eruption of scabies causes intense itching which is generally worse at night or after physical exercise when the body is warm and the mites are more active.Scabies is transmitted from person to person through skin-to-skin contact, contaminated clothing, and bedding.If your child develops a rash or skin condition, please consult your family physician. If untreated, scabies may persist for years, but treatment is nearly 100 percent effective, if directions are followed. All members of the family should receive treatment at the same time to assure eradication of scabies from the household.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is generally a mild, self-limiting, viral illness occurring most often in children under the age of 10. Cases may also occur in older children and adults. It is characterized by sudden onset, fever, sore throat, and poor appetite followed by lesions in the mouth or on hands one to two days later. Lesions begin as small red spots that blister that may become ulcers. They are usually located on the tongue, gums, and inside the cheek. A skin rash then develops which is usually located on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Transmission is through discharges from the nose, throat and feces. Children should be encouraged to wash hands frequently and dispose of used tissue properly so that the spread of infections can be limited as much as possible. If your child has these symptoms, please consult your physician so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. Your doctor may prescribe treatment to relieve symptoms, but there is no specific treatment and the virus must run its course.

Communicable Reference Guide