- Contact your school administrator and obtain the written guidelines your school follows for handling and distributing medicine. Keep them on file at all times.
- Know that as a parent, it is your right to request that only trained personnel distribute medication to your child. It is even within your right to ask that the school nurse be the sole distributor of medication for your child.
- Find out who is responsible for administering medication in your school and what medical training they have. The school administrator's office will have this information.
- Deliver the bottles of medication to the school yourself (in the original container, as required by law) and bring them directly to the school nurse or office. Do NOT give a medication to your child to deliver - ever.
- Put everything in writing. If your child has prescription medication for a specific illness, you'll need a note from your child's doctor. A similar note, either from a parent or doctor, is advisable for any over-the-counter medication your child is taking for an illness, or may take for a health issue - including something as simple as aspirin for headaches.
- Tell your child never to share prescription or over-the-counter medication with another student.
- Keep vitamins and natural and homeopathic remedies at home.
- Tell the nurse about any special considerations for storing the medication, such as need for refrigeration. Follow up to make sure this is being done.
- Know how your children will get the medication. Will someone call your child to the school office, or will he or she have to remember to get his or her medication? Insist that your child be CALLED to the school office daily. Some schools will advise you that this makes an older child more vulnerable for singling out. If your school tells you this, don't buy it. In many cases this is an attempt by the school to skirt responsibility. Under the ADA the school bears SOLE responsibility for meeting the needs of the child. A child should not be required to manage his or her care at any time.
- Schools are required by law to keep a record of medications dispensed, times, and names of the dispensing personnel. You have a right to inspect these records at any time. A smart parent will exercise that right frequently to find out who is giving their child medication, and when.
- Remember to update your child's medical history forms as needed, preferably after each doctor visit.
Special SituationsSpecial considerations for carrying and self-administering medication: In general, all medication should be kept in the nurse's office. However, there are situations in which the severity of the illness, particularly asthmatic or allergic conditions, dictates that students should carry and administer their own medications. Under the Education Law, school districts must permit students who have been diagnosed as having a severe asthmatic condition to carry and use a prescribed inhaler during the school day, with the written permission of a licensed health care provider and the student's parents.
Other requests for students to carry and self-administer medication should be directed to nursing personnel, who will make decisions on an individual basis considering factors such as:
- The severity of the health care problem.
- A licensed prescriber's order directing that the student be allowed to carry his or her medication and self-administer.
- The parent's consent to such prescriber's order.
- Evidence that the student has been instructed in the procedure of self-administration and can assume responsibility for carrying properly labeled medication on his or her person or keeping it in a school locker.
- Field trips and after-school activities.
Field TripsStudents may not be prevented from participating in an educational activity such as a field trip solely on the basis of a special health need. Taking medication on field trips and at after-school activities is usually not a problem because most students are capable of administering their own medication. The Department of Special Education recommends that on field trips or at other after-school activities, teachers or other school staff carry the medication so that the self-directed student can take it at the proper time.