Navigating Flu Season: Wisdom from a Nurse

As you may have noticed, flu season is upon us. Now come the dreaded questions: “How do I differentiate between the flu, a cold, allergies, or COVID-19?” and “What do I do if my child is starting to show symptoms?”

Practicing preventative care is the most important thing you can do as a parent to protect your child and other children at school.

To minimize the risk of getting sick, you should:

  1. Frequently clean your household surfaces
  2. Distance your family from people whom you know are sick
  3. Consider getting yourself and your family members the flu vaccine
  4. Teach your children to:
  • Wash their hands frequently for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or their elbows and wash their hands immediately after.
  • Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep (ideally 8 hours per night)
  • Not share food with others

Keep your child home if he or she:

  • Has a fever of over 100.4 F without fever-reducing medications
  • Has diarrhea with additional symptoms
  • Has a runny nose that is uncontrollable or has green/yellow-brownish secretions
  • Is vomiting with additional symptoms
  • Is excessively coughing

When your child is sick:

  • Do not send him or her to school (even if medicated)
  • Ensure that he or she gets plenty of rest
  • Ensure that he or she drinks plenty of fluids, including water, Gatorade, Pedialyte, coconut water, popsicles, and soups.

When to bring your children back to school:

  • When all symptoms above have been relieved for 24 hours without medication.

Symptom Chart

  Flu/Influenza Cold Allergy COVID-19
Cough  Usually  Usually  Sometimes  Usually (dry)
Muscle Ache  Usually  Sometimes  Never  Usually
Tiredness  Usually  Sometimes  Usually  Usually
Sneezing  Usually  Sometimes  Usually  Rarely
Sore Throat  Usually  Usually  Rarely  Usually
Runny/Stuffy Nose  Usually  Usually  Usually  Usually
Fever  Not Always  Sometimes  Never  Usually
Diarrhea  Sometimes  Never  Never  Sometimes
Nausea/Vomiting  Usually  Never  Never  Sometimes
New loss of taste or smell  Rarely  With a stuffy nose  Sometimes  W/O stuffy nose

Please consider your child’s well-being (as well as his or her classmates') before sending him or her to school with symptoms.


About the Author

Ruth Choi is one of the School Nurses at TCS. After graduating from UMSON, she spent some time in Emergency Medicine before deciding to find a better way to pursue and honor God. That has landed her in this position where she loves interacting with the students and staff. In her free time she enjoys hiking, making pottery at the wheel, and volunteering for the teen ministry at her church.


About Trinity Christian School

Pursuing Excellence for Mind and Heart

K-12 Independent Christian School in Northern Virginia

Located just over 20 miles southwest from Washington, D.C., 10 miles south of Route 66 in Fairfax, and 10 miles west of the Capital Beltway

Educating students to the glory of God by pursuing excellence for mind and heart since 1987



A 2019 National Blue Ribbon School