St. Colmcille’s Boys’ National School, Chapel Lane, Swords, Co.Dublin K67 WP65

(01) 8405132

St Colmcille's BNS

Ní neart go cur le chéile

Illness & Medication


The Board of Management of St Colmcille’s BNS has a duty of care to all its pupils and members of staff. This policy aims to set out procedures to be followed when children become unwell, to ensure that they are well cared for and that, where the cause is of an infectious nature, others are not exposed needlessly. Procedures regarding the administration of medicine during the school day are also outlined.


 Responsibility of Parents/ Guardians

Children who are unwell should not be sent to school. When they are well enough to return to school, parents/ guardians must send a note explaining the child’s absence. As pupils cannot stay indoors from the yard, children should only return to school when they are well enough for all aspects of school life.

Pupil Absence – Informing the school

In the case of an infectious disease, parents/ guardians are asked to contact the school as soon as possible for the following reasons:

  • If a child has an illness which is recognised by HSE as an infectious disease, staff, other parents/guardians (especially pregnant women) or the authorities may need to be notified. It is vital that information about an infectious disease is passed to the school as soon as possible.
  • National Educational Welfare Board requires the reason for absence to be recorded
  • Child absences may affect how staff members are assigned during the school day.

When children should be kept at home:

Parents are asked not to send children to school if any of the following apply:

The child has symptoms of an infectious illness that is mentioned in the list of ‘Common Ailments requiring Pupils to Stay at Home’ at the back of this policy (Appendix 1) or in HSE Publication: ‘Management of Infectious Diseases in School – 2014’, Chapter 9.,14304,en.pdf

  • The child does not feel well enough to participate in the normal programme of curriculum activities.
  • The child requires more care than his teacher is able to provide without affecting the health, safety and schoolwork of the other pupils.
  • If antibiotics are prescribed for a contagious illness or infection, the child should not attend school until at least 24 hours after treatment has begun and must be showing signs of improvement.
  • If head lice or ringworm is noticed, the child may not come to school until treatment has begun. See the end of Appendix 1 at the back of this policy.

If parents are unsure whether a child should attend school they should consult their doctor for advice.

In the interest of Health, Safety and best practice, copies of this policy are made available through the following:

  1. The policy will be available on the school’s website
  2. Staff are informed about the policy during induction
  3. The policy is reviewed as required.

Returning to school

A pupil who has an infectious ailment, e.g. diarrhoea, vomiting, heavy cold, should remain at home until they are no longer infectious. The length of time before return will depend on the ailment and on the treatment. Guidelines in Appendix 1 at the back of this policy, or in ‘Management of Infectious Diseases in School’ (Chapter 9), should be followed.

Collecting child when ill

If a parents/ guardians are contacted by the school because their child is not well enough to be at school, the parents/ guardians must collect the child as soon as possible. This is primarily for the well-being of the child who is unwell. In the case of infectious diseases, it is also very important for the well-being of the other pupils and the school staff. Classroom staff will aim to keep the child as comfortable as possible while waiting for a parent/ guardian to arrive.

Responsibility of School

If a child feels unwell or appears unwell, the following procedures will be followed for the well-being of the child who is sick and of all members of the school community.

Internal School Procedures when Child is Unwell

  • If a pupil needs to go home because he has an infectious illness, or is too unwell to participate in school activities, his parents/ guardians will be informed.
  • In the case of a child who is unwell and is awaiting collection, staff will ensure that the child is supervised, reassured and made as comfortable as possible.
  • If the child has an infectious condition:
  • further contact with other children will be limited by moving the child to a separate space in the classroom
  • all other necessary precautions will be taken to limit the spread of infection, i.e. careful hand-washing and use of suitable sanitising cleaning products, as required
  • If parents/ guardians inform the school that their child has symptoms of an infectious disease which needs to be reported to staff and other parents, or to the HSE, this will be communicated promptly.

Staff are not medically trained to diagnose if a child is unwell, they will refer to the exclusion periods outlined in this policy and follow the exclusion procedure in order to minimise the spread of infection.

St Colmcille’s BNS aims to promote good hygiene practices that will help prevent transmission of infection. These practices are taught as part of the SPHE curriculum and are consolidated throughout the school day. They include:

  • Teaching and implementing effective handwashing throughout the school, with staff leading by example
  • Teaching and implementing respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, e.g. to cough / sneeze into a bent elbow etc.
  • Facilitating the Schools Immunisation Programme
  • Provision of gloves, and suitable sanitising cleaning products and cleaning equipment for staff who are in contact with bodily fluids when caring for a child.

Administration of Medication in School

While the Board of Management has a duty to safeguard the health and safety of pupils when they are engaged in authorised school activities this does not imply a duty upon teachers nor ancillary staff to undertake personally the administration of medicines.

The Board of Management requests parents to ensure that teachers are made aware in writing of any medical condition suffered by any children in their class.

  • Non- prescriptive medicines will neither be stored nor administered to pupils in school. Prescribed medicines will not be administered in school without the written consent of parents and the specific authorisation of the Board of Management
  • The medicine should not be kept by the pupil but in a locked cupboard out of reach of pupils. Certain medicines, such as inhalers used by asthmatic children, must be readily accessible at all times of the school day.
  • The medicine should be self-administered if possible, under the supervision of an authorised adult
  • A written record of the date and time of administration must be kept.
  • School personnel should not administer medication without the specific authorisation of the Board.
  • School personnel cannot be required to administer medicine or drugs to a pupil.
  • In an emergency situation, school personnel will do whatever is necessary with regard to the administration of medicine
  • In emergency situations, qualified medical assistance will be secured at the earliest opportunity
  • Parents of a pupil requiring regular medication during school hours should write to the Board to authorise a member of staff to administer the medication in school.
  • Written details are required from the parent/guardian to the Board of Management giving the name of the child, name and dose of medication; whether the child should be responsible for his/her own medication; the circumstances in which medication is to be given by the teacher and consent for it to be given; when the parent is to be notified and where s/he can be contacted. It is the parents’ responsibility to check each morning whether or not the authorised teacher (or special needs assistant) is in school unless an alternative arrangement is made locally.
  • Where children are suffering from life threatening conditions, parents should outline clearly in writing, what can and can’t be done in a particular emergency situation, with particular reference to what may be a risk to the child.
  • Parents are further required to indemnify the Board of Management and authorised members of staff in respect of any liability that may arise regarding the administration of prescribed medicines in school. The Board of Management will inform the school’s insurers accordingly.
  • Where possible the family doctor should arrange for the administration of prescribed medicines outside of school hours.
  • Where permission has been given by the Board of Management for the administration of medicine the smallest possible dose should be brought to school, preferably by the parent, with clear written instructions for administration, giving the name of the pupil.
  • Changes in prescribed medication (or dosage) should be notified immediately to the school with clear written instructions of the procedure to be followed in storing and administering the new medication.
  • Consent form is appended to this policy document (Appendix 2)

 Parents should ensure that these procedures are clearly understood before submitting any request to the Board of Management

 This policy will be reviewed as and when necessary.

Sanctioned at Board of Management meeting on _____________________

Posted on on _____________________

Review date: _________________

Signed: _______________________             Date:   _____________

(Chairperson, Board of Management)


Appendix 1

Common Ailments requiring Children to Stay at Home or to Visit GP

Chicken Pox The child should not attend school until all scabs are dry and crusted. This is usually 5-7 days after appearance of rash or until a note from a doctor is provided stating the child is free from infection and no threat to the health of others in the school.
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) Inflammation of the lining of the eye and eyelid, causing sore or red eyes; can be highly contagious if bacterial or viral. Only a doctor can diagnose bacterial or viral conjunctivitis so parents are asked to seek professional medical advice. A doctor’s note stating diagnosis and recommended exclusion must be furnished to the school staff before a child returns to school – at least 24 hours after start of treatment, perhaps until fully recovered.
Hepatitis A This is usually a mild illness, particularly in children, caused by a virus, which infects the liver. The illness starts with fever, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach ache and after a few days, jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes and skin) may appear. A child should stay home while he is unwell, or until 7 days after the onset of jaundice, whichever is the later.
Hepatitis B Hepatitis B infection is relatively rare in children in Ireland. People infected with the hepatitis B virus may become unwell with jaundice and fever or more commonly, may show no signs of infection. Children should stay home while unwell or until a note from a doctor is provided stating the child is free from infection and no threat to the health of others in the school.
Diarrhoea When your child has had diarrhoea due to infection, he should only return to school once 48 hours have passed following the last loose bowel movement. For example, if your child has his last loose bowel movement at 2pm on Sunday afternoon, he should not return to school until Wednesday morning or until a note from a doctor is provided stating the child is free from infection and no threat to the health of others in the school.
Vomiting As in the case of diarrhoea, the child should remain at home until 48 hours have passed since last episode of vomiting due to infection or until a note from a doctor is provided stating the child is free from infection and no threat to the health of others in the school.
Fever The normal body temperature is 36.5 to 37.2 C. If the child develops a temperature, he should remain at home until 24 hours after the fever has passed.
Heavy cold symptoms or flu like symptoms E.g. large amount of yellow-green nasal discharge, sleepiness, ear pain and/or fever. Children with influenza should remain at home for 5 days from when their symptoms began. The child should be kept at home until these have subsided and the he is able to participate in the normal school curriculum.



Mild cold symptoms If a child’s mild cold symptoms would prevent him from participating in normal school curriculum, e.g. significant weariness at onset, streaming watery discharge from nose, persistent cough, he should be kept at home.
Measles Measles starts with what appears at first to be an ordinary cold, sore eyes, sneezing, coughing and a runny nose. These symptoms are accompanied by a fever.  They are usually present for about four days before the rash appears and during this period the child is very infectious, so if measles is suspected it is wise to keep a pupil away from school.
Impetigo The fluid inside the blisters is very infectious. The child should be taken to the doctor who will advise about return to school, usually when blisters have crusted and healed or a minimum of 24 hrs. after commencing antibiotics,
Hand, Foot and Mouth (HFM) The child develops a fever and rash with blisters, which appear especially in the mouth and on the hands and feet. It is spread by direct contact with the secretions of the infected person and by coughing and sneezing. It is also found in the faeces of infected people. While a pupil is unwell he should be kept away from school. Exclusion of a well pupil with HFM is generally not required
Mumps Mumps causes fever and swelling of the salivary glands, particularly just in front of and below the ear. Mumps can be spread by droplets from the nose and throat and by saliva. The child should stay home for 5 days after the onset of swelling.
Rubella (German Measles) Rubella is a mild illness with a faint rash, which resolves quickly. Usually the rash is the first indication of illness, although there may be mild catarrh, headache or vomiting at the start. The rash takes the form of small pink spots all over the body. There may be a slight fever and some tenderness in the neck, armpits or groin and there may be joint pains. The rash lasts for only one or two days and the spots remain distinct. The child should stay home for 7 days after the onset of the rash and whilst unwell.
Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) Scarlet fever is caused by certain strains of streptococcus bacteria. These bacteria are common (most people will have them at some time in their lives) and cause a number of other diseases including sore throat (“strep throat”) and skin infections. Once a child has been on antibiotic treatment for 24 hours he can return to school provided he feels well enough.
Pharyngitis / Tonsillitis This means a sore throat. Usually it is caused by a viral infection, for which antibiotics are not effective. Occasionally it can be caused by a bacterium called streptococcus (“strep throat”). If the disease is known to be caused by a streptococcal (bacterial) infection the child should be kept away from school until 24 hours after the start of treatment with antibiotics and while they feel unwell. Otherwise a child should stay at home while they feel unwell.
Scabies This is an extremely itchy rash due to an allergic reaction to infection with a microscopic mite which burrows under the skin. The child may return to school once treatment has commenced.
Tuberculosis (TB) The bacteria may infect any part of the body but most commonly infect the lungs and lymph glands. Symptoms of TB classically include a persistent cough of at least three weeks duration, night sweats, loss of appetite and weight loss. If a TB case occurs in a member of staff or pupil attending our school it will be notified to the local Department of Public Health. Children must stay away from school until a note from a doctor is provided stating the child is free from infection and no threat to the health of others in the school.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) The early stages of whooping cough, which may last a week or so, can be very like a heavy cold with a temperature and persistent cough. The cough becomes worse and the characteristic ‘whoop’ may develop. Coughing spasms are frequently worse at night and may be associated with vomiting. Children who develop pertussis should stay at home until they have had 5 days of appropriate antibiotic treatment or for 21 days from onset of illness if no antibiotic treatment.

Skin Rash: Staff members are not medically qualified to diagnose, therefore all skin rashes which occur may be treated as suspicious, parents will be contacted and requested to seek professional medical advice.



Common Conditions requiring Immediate Treatment

          Head Lice It is important to avoid contact between an affected child and others. If parents/guardians notice head lice, or are advised that they have been noticed in the child’s hair at school, treatment must begin before the child returns to school. So long as the treatment begins before bed-time, the child may attend school the next day.
Ringworm A child with suspected ringworm should be taken to his GP and, if ringworm is confirmed, treatment should begin as soon as possible. Once parents/guardians attend to this, the child may return to school.


 Appendix 2

Administration of Medicines

Consent Form

Name of Child:                                                           Class:                                  

Parents’ Name:                                                          Phone No.              




The medicine should be administered at:                                    (time)

by child himself   yes/no or by an adult in the school yes/no

I indemnify the Board of Management and authorised members of staff in respect of any liability that may arise regarding the administration of the prescribed medicines in the school.

The Board is obliged to inform its insurers of the above arrangement.


(Parent/guardian)                        (Parent/guardian)