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Your Child is Starting Kindergarten, Here’s What the School Nurse Wants You to Know.

What a milestone you have reached in your child’s life! Starting kindergarten is exciting, scary, sometimes new to parents, always new to the kids. Often it’s a different school, different kids, and always a whole new schedule for them to learn.

As the school nurse I wanted to share a bit of information for parents of new kindergartners in a new school. Some things are specific to my district, some are universal and some are in between.

Medication and Medication Forms: Does your child take medication that would need to be given at school such as asthma inhaler, Epi-pen, ADHD medication that needs to be taken during the day, or insulin and blood sugar related issues? If they do, there is a form that the school district or doctor can provide that gives the school nurse specific orders for your child’s medications. This form must be filled out and signed by the doctor before any medications can be given, NO exceptions in my district. This form is needed every school year, you must have a new updated one for each school year. We also do NOT provide the medications so if you need your child to have it at school YOU must bring it. Be aware that any daily medications that can be given before or after school hours should be given at home by the parent.

Health Information Forms: My district has a one page form that outlines basic emergency health information about your child. It lists things like emergency contact info, their doctor and dentists name and phone numbers, insurance information, any health issues they may have, any assistive devices they may use (such as glasses, hearing aid, walking devices, etc), and very importantly, this form has a spot that gives or denies permission for the school nurse to administer Motrin or Tylenol to your child while at school. This form should be filled out by the parent and returned to the nurse yearly to catch any changes to the child’s health history. Please be sure to include things like medications that are taken at home, and all health issues even if they seem unimportant.

Physical exams: Your child should have a physical exam by the pediatrician within a year of starting school. They should have a physical every year but we need the form filled out prior to entering kindergarten. The physical exam form should be filled out and returned to the nurse any time they have a checkup at the doctor but the requirements are for kindergarten entry, first grade, sixth grade, eleventh grade, and any time they enter a new school. Ask your school nurse for the form you need or ask the pediatrician for their form. If you need assistance with finding a doctor please ask your school nurse.

Dental Exams: Your child should have a dental exam within a year of starting school. Dental exams are required for kindergarten, first grade, third grade, seventh grade, and any time they enter a new school. In my district we have a few mobile dental programs that come to the school and do dental exams and dental work on eligible students but they unfortunately do not see every student in school. If you need assistance with finding a dentist please ask your school nurse.

Immunizations: Your child must be fully up to date with immunizations OR have a written plan from the doctor for receiving the needed immunizations. Currently in my district students are being excluded from school if they do not have the required immunizations after multiple warnings. Please see my previous post about immunizations for more information on what exactly is needed and why. You may choose to be exempt from some or all immunizations for religious, medical or philosophical reasons but you must fill out and sign the exemption form yearly and turn it in to the nurse. If you do choose to exempt your child from immunizations be aware that if there is an outbreak of a vaccinatable disease in your child’s school that your child will not be allowed in school until the outbreak is cleared. No exceptions can be made on this issue.

Extra Clothes: Please provide extra clothes for your child at school. They should have a complete outfit including shirt, pants/shorts/skirt, underwear, socks, and shoes if possible (I know not everyone has extra shoes available to leave at school). The clothing should be replaced if used. Kids of all ages can have different types of accidents including potty accidents, vomiting, spilled food or dirty. Kindergartners especially are susceptible to the potty accidents even if they have been well trained for a while because they are in a new place with new rules and sometimes just don’t make it in time. Some young children are nervous of the school bathrooms or don’t know where to go right away so accidents happen. The nurse or counselor may have spare clothes but it is a very limited supply and they may or may not fit your child.

Emergency Contact Information: Please make sure the school has your correct contact information including correct current phone numbers, email addresses, and other emergency contacts and their phone numbers. If the school has an emergency with your child we need to be able to get a hold of someone. Often adults change phone numbers or employment or even move houses and forget to update the information with the school.

Custody and legal concerns: While the school nurse does not need to know any specific information regarding legal issues or custody arrangements, please let the school know if anything changes with custody or if there are any family members who we should avoid contacting about your child specifically – such as non custodial parents or if you are a foster parent and the child should not be in contact with their biological parents at any point. This information is often subject to changing at times and if a parent is previously listed as a contact person, we won’t know otherwise unless we are informed.

here is a link to all the forms you would need for Philadelphia in case you need them: https://www.philasd.org/studentplacement/forms/

Here are Philadelphia city health centers in case you need to find a doctor or dentist: https://www.phila.gov/services/mental-physical-health/city-health-centers/

Here is a great article from Nemours with other information about starting back to school: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/back-school.html?ref=search

If you ever have questions about your child’s health needs, school policies, or you need assistance with getting insurance, doctor recommendations, or any information, don’t be afraid to contact your school nurse or counselor. If we don’t know the answer we can always find out! We are here to help you as best we can.

Published by Emme Mauer M.Ed., BSN, RN, CSN

Mom to two preemies, anxiety sufferer, postpartum depression survivor, and school nurse extraordinaire.

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