A guide for families, schools and students with chronic illnesses
When their needs are met at school, students with chronic illnesses have better attendance, improved alertness and energy, fewer symptoms, and fewer restrictions on participation in extracurricular activities and events like field trips.
Schools need to work together with parents, students and the health care team to make the school environment safe and supportive, and to guarantee students with chronic illnesses the same educational opportunities as all other students.Guide for Families, Schools and Students
- Inform the school of the student’s health needs and diagnosis as soon as appropriate, and whenever there are any changes the school should know about
- Provide written authorizations for medication administration and emergency treatment, signed by the student’s doctor as necessary
- Make sure the school has enough of the student’s medication in pharmacy-labeled containers, as well as any other medical supplies the student will need at school
- Provide written authorizations for the school to communicate with the medical team as necessary
- Make sure the school has all the right numbers to contact you or another emergency contact
- Work with the school to develop a plan to help meet the student’s health needs. Gather the right team to put the plan in place. This team always includes the parents, sometimes the student if they are old enough to participate in the process, and usually teachers, the principal, the school nurse, and the school counselor
- Help your student be a part of the team by taking responsibility for their care in ways that are appropriate for their age. Having a coping plan for school will help make the transition easier for your child.
- Identify students with chronic conditions, and review their health records as submitted by families and health care providers
- Ensure proper record keeping, including appropriate measures to both protect confidentiality and to share information.
- Arrange a meeting to discuss accommodations and services that the student may need. This may involve developing a 504 plan or an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or other school plan.
- Clarify the roles and obligations of specific school staff, and provide education and communication systems necessary to ensure that students’ health and educational needs are met in a safe and coordinated way.
- Put in place strategies to keep the student engaged in school activities like their peers, including physical education, recess, off campus events, extracurricular activities, and field trips.
- Keep lines of communication open with families and the healthcare team as authorized by the family.
- Ensure that the student is given prescribed medications as directed and in a safe manner. This means that the child should have access to medication at all times during the school day and at school-related activities.
- Be prepared to handle emergencies and to ensure that there is a properly trained staff member to administer medications or other immediate care during the school day and at all school-related functions, regardless of time or location.
- Provide a safe and healthy school environment.
- Provide a supportive learning environment that views students with chronic illness the same as other students except to respond to health needs.
- Notify an adult about concerns and needs in managing his or her symptoms or the school environment
- Arrange a place where you can go to use the pain control and relaxation techniques you have learned
- When developmentally appropriate, participate in his/her own health care as decided with the rest of the health care and school based team
- Once you are back in school, take it easy at first.
- Make sure to get about 9 hours of sleep each night
- Ask for help if you need it, and just do your best!
The goal is to say in school all day, every day; it is an important part of your treatment plan. Being in school shows your pain that you are in charge. It will get a little easier each day.