It's that time of year again. That time when it's still summer, but time for school to start is sneaking up on us. Parents know that time all too well. There are school clothes and supplies to be purchased, class and bus schedules to review, and seemingly countless other details to deal with.
When your child has a chronic illness, whether it's headaches, Migraines, or a different illness entirely, we really can't afford to put off getting our children ready for school. There are extra steps that need to be taken; extra preparations that need to be made. In the Miss America scholarship pageant program, they have a motto. They call it "the Ps..."
School rules have made it more complicated for chronically ill children and their parents. Many schools have a "zero tolerance" policy about medications, including simple over-the-counter medications. Some of these policies are so inflexible that students have been expelled for having Advil with them at school. Some schools also have very strict attendance policies that complicate matters for students with a chronic illness.
Let's take a look at some of the prior preparations that need to be done before school starts and some tools to help you and your child ...
Check on the school's policies before calling or taking your child to the doctor so you'll be able to address all your needs with one call or visit. Do yourself the favor of making a list of what to ask when you call the school and notes of the information you get.
- Check to see if your child needs a letter regarding their illness or any medical records, including immunization records, to take to school.
Check with your child's school regarding their attendance policy...
- What and how many absences are excused with a note from parents?
- What necessitates a note from the child's doctor?
- When a child has a chronic illness, is the absence policy different if there's a letter on file from the doctor?
- Is there a maximum number of days beyond which absence from school results in failing grades or problems moving on to the next grade level?
Check with your child's school regarding their policies about children taking medications at school...
- Are children allowed to keep OTC medications with them? Prescription medications?
If they must leave their medications with a school nurse or someone else...
- who is this person and what are their qualifications to dispense medications?
- who is the backup person if the person usually in charge of helping ill students is unavailable?
- where are the medications stored?
- what are the labeling and other requirements for you to send medications to school?
- if your child needs their medication, how long will it take for them to get it?
- Is your child required to take a physical education class? Will this impact their illness? If so, what arrangements need to be made?
- If you child rides a bus to school, do you know the route and whether riding the bus or waiting at the bus stop will affect your child's health?
- Do you need forms to fill out to give your child's teacher, school nurse, or school administrator information about their Migraines and what to do if your child gets one at school? If so, you can download them free at the end of our article Why Children with Migraine Often Need Special Care. In fact, you might want to print that article and take it to school.