Sick child policies in Danish daycares

by Chava Sanderson

Children who attend daycare are often exposed to childhood ailments like chicken pox and lice, as well as common colds and viruses. It can sometimes be hard to figure out when to keep a sick child home, especially for parents who are new to the system. Although policies can vary a little, most daycares throughout the country have the same general procedures and guidelines. 

When your child should stay home for the day
The general rule for most daycares is that a child should not attend nursery or kindergarten if they have a contagious illness or ailment, have a fever (38°C or higher), or are not feeling well enough to participate in the day’s activities. The amount of time your child will need to stay home depends on the illness. In the case of fever, most daycares require a child to be fever free for 24 hours before returning to daycare. The Ministry of Health publishes official recommendations for various types of childhood illnesses, and most daycares use these recommendations in their sick child policies. An English translation of the official guidelines is posted at the end of this article.

When your child becomes ill at daycare
If your child starts to get sick during the day, the daycare may contact you to come pick them up. The childminder will probably not take your child’s temperature, but base their decision on his or her general condition. For example, your little one will usually be allowed to stay in daycare with a cough or runny nose if they have normal energy levels and are playing as usual. If they start to become lethargic or extra cranky, the daycare will probably contact you. 

Outbreaks 
If your child develops any type of contagious disease like chicken pox or hand-foot-mouth disease, the daycare will contact you immediately, and you should keep your child home until they are no longer contagious.

In addition to contagious illnesses, lice and pinworm outbreaks are also very common in Danish daycares. International parents are often surprised to find that Danes tend to have a laid-back approach to both lice and pinworms, and the negative stigma that some cultures have about the two childhood ailments does not generally exist in Denmark. Daycares will usually not call you to come pick your child up early if they have lice or pinworms, but will inform you when you pick your child up at the end of the day.

Whenever there is any type of outbreak, the daycare should inform parents by posting an announcement, either on the Intranet or on a sign at the entrance to the daycare. Announcements do not include children’s names, but may refer to a specific daycare group (for example, there is a case of pinworms in the bumblebee group). As a parent, you should always immediately inform the daycare if your child has caught a contagious of disease or ailment. This will help the daycare keep other parents informed about the status of ongoing outbreaks.

Official guidelines
Sundhed.dk, an online resource created by the public health care system, provides detailed information about many childhood illnesses. Nurseries and kindergartens will often print and post information from sundhed.dk for parents to read when there is an outbreak in the daycare.

Unfortunately, information on sundhed.dk is only provided in Danish. The table below summarizes the Danish recommendations for when children should stay home, and when they are allowed to return to the daycare after an illness or infection. If you would like to read the official information on sundhed.dk in Danish, click here.

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