Can my child go to daycare or school with a cold?

Are cold children allowed to daycare or school in Corona times? In many federal states there are now clear instructions for this. But some educators have their own rules. And the uncertainty about certain symptoms remains.

“The child has a cold!” – For many parents for months this automatically meant having to look after their offspring at home. Daycare centers and schools sent girls and boys back home even if they had only mild cold symptoms out of fear of a corona infection or did not even accept them. In the meantime, mothers and fathers can breathe a sigh of relief nationwide: in most federal states, children with a cold nose are allowed to go to school and daycare. There are now clear recommendations, as a survey by the German Press Agency shows. In Saxony-Anhalt these are called “Schnupfenpapier”.

This will provide a lot of relief for parents, because colds are common in children: “In the first winter of kindergarten children get ten to 15 infections, in the second it is still five to ten,” explains Jakob Maske, Berlin pediatrician and spokesman of the professional association of paediatricians.

Infection protection or educational mandate

Bremen’s Senator for Health Claudia Bernhard (Linke) emphasized during the summer holidays that there must be a balance between infection protection and the educational and social mandate. Mild cold symptoms are not a sufficient reason to have to stay at home.

Often the guidelines are now clear, for example in Berlin. There, parents use a scheme to find out how to proceed: Children who have a cold or cough but no fever are allowed to continue attending daycare or school. If the temperature rises to 38.5 degrees with these symptoms, the child must stay at home for at least 24 hours. If you have further and / or worsened symptoms, a visit to a doctor is recommended. A corona test may then be initiated there, according to the education administration.

“Certificates or negative smears are not necessary”

In his practice, Jakob Maske experiences, however, that not all educators and teachers adhere to this scheme: “Even now our waiting rooms are pretty full. Daycare and school children are presented with mostly only cold symptoms.” Despite the very good specifications of the Senate Administration, certificates or negative smears are often required – neither of which is necessary, according to the doctor. “The indication for a test is always provided by the doctor and not by a teacher.”

As in Berlin, there are also clear recommendations in other federal states. While in the capital, for example, persistent coughing is an exclusion criterion, in Hamburg or Baden-Württemberg one speaks of dry cough, provided it is not caused by a chronic illness. And while the rules for daycare centers and schools apply in Berlin, other countries differentiate here.

In Saxony-Anhalt, for example, parents of daycare children have to submit a written declaration that they will only send their child to daycare without typical Covid 19 symptoms. In the past there have been many complaints because daycare centers sent children home with a runny nose, said Minister of Social Affairs Petra Grimm-Benne (SPD) of the dpa. This has not existed since the new regulation. The Ministry of Education has published a “sniff paper” with recommendations for primary school children.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, on the other hand, children with a cold must first be observed at home for 24 hours. If their condition improves and no additional symptoms occur, they are allowed to go to school. In Bavaria, children with mild symptoms such as runny nose and occasional cough are allowed to go to school if they have not developed a fever within 24 hours – an exception is made for primary school students.

The most common corona symptoms in children

According to the Robert Koch Institute, count with children SARS-CoV-2Infection, fever and cough – as in adults too – are the most common symptoms of a corona infection. However, a recent study in Great Britain confirms that other symptoms can often be more pronounced in children. Around half of them have no fever, no cough and no loss of the sense of smell or taste, report researchers in the journal “BMJ”.

Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, loss of appetite or vomiting are quite common. Rash and headache are also mentioned as possible symptoms. With such rather unspecific signs, parents should be advised to leave the children at home until the symptoms have subsided, explained Tim Spector of King’s College London. In half of the cases considered for the study, however, the children had no symptoms at all.

Before the introduction of the new recommendations, there had been quite a proliferation nationwide: Some facilities required pediatricians to give a certificate that an infection with the coronavirus could be excluded. Others even wanted to see a PCR test result. Pediatricians sounded the alarm and warned of overcrowded practices. Parents feared for their jobs because they no longer saw themselves in a position to look after their children at home for any longer after the corona-related school and daycare closings. The federal states reacted and published their recommendations for action.

From the point of view of doctors, autumn could still be difficult. “Now the children are meeting again in schools and daycare centers. It is unavoidable that germs are exchanged and the children get sick,” said the chairwoman of the Brandenburg General Practitioner Association, Karin Harre. The association is therefore considering whether children from the age of six should also go to the family doctor in order to relieve the pediatrician practice.

Important NOTE: Under no circumstances does the information replace professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The content of cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start treatments.


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