Daily health screening for preschoolers is an essential part of a school program that ensures the health and safety of the children in your care and your teachers. These health checks aim to offer necessary medical help to children exhibiting any signs or symptoms of illness.
A daily health check is a quick assessment of each child's health. Daily health checks help you identify sick children early, allowing you to take appropriate steps to keep them comfortable and prevent the spread of illness to other children or staff.
Daycare centers are required to conduct daily health checks according to the policies of their state and center. In some states, health checks are required by law. This article provides an overview of health screening for preschoolers and what you need to know to ensure a healthy daycare center.
What's included in a daily health screening for preschoolers?
A daily health check is a screening procedure conducted every day to ensure the safety and well-being of children. Daily health checks are typically conducted by teachers first thing in the morning before the child enters your center and before the parent or guardian leaves. However, they may also be conducted at any other time throughout the day if there is a noticeable change in the child’s appearance or behavior.
If a child is absent due to illness, the daily health check should be conducted when the child returns to school.
Health checks typically include a brief assessment of the child’s health by looking for signs and symptoms of illness, injury, or other health concerns. The teacher should also ask the child about any symptoms they may be experiencing.
A daily health screening for children includes checking:
- Mood/behavioral health: Do you notice a change in the child’s mood, behavior, or energy level? Are they complaining of not feeling well or exhibiting unusual behavior like continual crying?
- Physical health: Does the child have signs of a fever? Are they sneezing, coughing, or wheezing? Are there any visible rashes or sores on their skin?
Why are daily health checks important?
Daily health checks are essential in keeping children and staff members healthy. Anyone not feeling well should not report to the daycare center. Daily health checks are important because they help to:
- Identify sick children early: When illnesses are identified early, it allows for quick treatment and prevention of the illnesses spreading to other children and staff members by identifying children who should stay at home.
- Monitor children's health: You will use the information from daily health checks to spot trends and patterns in children's health. Taking action to prevent illnesses, such as introducing hand-washing stations or increasing ventilation in the classroom also helps to ensure children’s health.
- Reduce absenteeism: When children are healthy, they are more likely to be in school and can learn.
- Improve learning outcomes: When children are healthy, they can focus on learning and retain information, ultimately performing better.
- Keep staff members healthy: Early identification of illness in children helps staff members avoid exposure and stay healthy. Healthy staff members equal lower absenteeism, greater production, and job satisfaction. Also, it reduces the amount of time that other staff members need to spend on covering for absent colleagues.
- Increase job satisfaction for staff: When staff members are healthy, they can do their jobs more effectively and feel more satisfied with their work, leading to lower turnover rates and increased stability in your school.
- Save money on healthcare costs: When children are healthy, it results in fewer doctor visits and hospital stays. This saves money on healthcare costs for families and the school.
- Promote a culture of wellness: Daily health checks develop a culture of wellness at your center. When staff members and families know that your center is focused on keeping everyone healthy, they are more likely to take steps to prevent illness and promote health.
Step-by-step procedures for daily health screenings
Here are the steps that you should take for a daily health screening:
- Set up a designated health screening area with all the necessary supplies.
- Have the child remove any outerwear, such as hats, coats, and gloves.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Have the child sit or stand in front of you.
- Using a no-touch thermometer, check the child’s temperature.
- Ask the child how they feel and if they have any symptoms, such as a cough, sore throat, or runny nose. Also, ask the parent or guardian if the child has symptoms that have not yet been mentioned.
- Look for any signs of illness, injury, or changes in mood or behaviors.
- If the child has any symptoms or signs of illness, do not allow them to enter the daycare center. Communicate your concerns with the child’s parent or guardian as they may need to be taken to the doctor for further evaluation.
- If the child is cleared for entry into the daycare, have them wash their hands with soap and water and proceed to their classroom.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after the child has been screened.
- Repeat the process for each child entering the daycare center.
Supporting children if they become ill at your center
If a child in your center becomes ill, here is how you can support them:
- Daily health screening: Keep a daily log of each child's health status to help you identify patterns and possible causes of illness.
- Daily health observations: Make daily observations of each child's behavior and appearance. Look for changes that may indicate illness, such as increased lethargy or a change in eating habits.
- Communication: Keep the lines of communication open with families. Let them know about any changes in their child's health or behavior, and work together to determine the best course of action.
- Documentation: Keep detailed records of each child's health status, including daily observations, communications with families, and any medical treatment received.
- Follow-up: After a child has recovered from an illness, follow up with families to see if there is any updated health information you should be made aware of.
Writing a center health policy
A preschool health policy is a document that outlines the health and safety procedures that a preschool must follow. It is essential to have a health policy in place to protect the children in your care and ensure that your staff and families are aware of the procedures they need to follow in the event a child is sick.
Your health policy should detail the signs and symptoms that warrant a child being kept at home and not allowed to attend preschool. Remember to be clear and concise in your writing and to make all of your staff aware of the procedures outlined in the document. For example, your policy might state that a child should stay at home if they have a fever of 100.4° F or higher or are vomiting.
The policy should also include when children can return to your program after an illness. For example, a child may be able to return to preschool if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Your health policy should also document the procedures staff must follow to manage illnesses at your center. For example, staff might be responsible for conducting daily health checks and notifying families immediately if their child is exhibiting any symptoms that don’t meet your health guidelines.
Create an engaging, professional family handbook for your center that includes relevant information about your program and your policies and procedures. Download our template below to get started.
By conducting daily health screening for preschoolers, providers ensure that children stay healthy. A system that records all children’s daily symptoms and potential signs of illness will help with early detection and minimize the spread of illness to the other children and staff at your center.