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3 Critical Conversations for Managing Your Child’s Medications at School

If you are preparing to send a little one back to elementary or middle school this year, you likely have a lot on your mind. If your student also takes medications during the school day, then you have even more to think about. By having a few conversations with your child, their physician, and their school administrators, you can make sure that all medications are managed correctly and safely while your son or daughter is at school.

Who to Speak with About Sending Your Child’s Medication to School

Here are three conversations you should be having about your child’s daily medication schedule as you prepare to start the school year.

  1. Your Child’s Physician and Pharmacist

    This is the first conversation you should have. Your child’s prescribing physician is the most familiar with their medical history and needs, as well as the requirements for medication they’ve prescribed. Your physician may also be familiar with the local school districts and what their protocols are for administering medication to students. Take some time to talk through the medications that your student needs to take while at school, how/when they need to be taken, and how they should be stored (e.g. many medications require refrigeration).

  2. Your Child’s School Administrators and Medical Staff

    Rest assured that there are likely many students in your school district who require medication during the school day. As such, most schools have detailed guidelines and regulations for the management and administration of those drugs. Ask for those guidelines as early as possible, print them out, if needed, and review them in detail. Then be sure to follow up with your school administrators if you have any additional questions. Once you understand the guidelines, you will likely need to review them with your pharmacist and possibly your student’s prescribing physician as well.

    Common guidlines you can expect to see are:

    • All medication must be hand delivered to the school by the student’s parent or guardian and given directly to staff.
    • Most schools require all medication to be brought to school in the original labeled container prepared by the pharmacy (i.e., no envelopes, foil, or baggies). Simply ask your pharmacist to create two containers – one to keep at home and one to send to school.
    • School staff members cannot be responsible for deciding when an “as needed” medication should be administered. Parents will need to work with the school nurse to discuss how to manage those medications.
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  3. Your Child

    While in elementary or middle school, it is very rare that a child will be given permission to “self carry” or self-administer their medications. However, it is critically important that they understand the basics about their medical needs and their treatment. Topics to cover include:

    • What their medication looks like
    • Who should give it to them
    • When they should take their medication
    • Any dangerous symptoms they should watch for

    For example, your student should only take their purple pills from their teacher or the school nurse after lunch, never any other color or from any other adult or student, and they should speak up if their stomach hurts at all during the day. Your pediatrician or prescribing physician can also help you to think through what information is age-appropriate for your student’s unique situation.

With a few thoughtful conversation and some help from your pharmacist, you will be able to help your child safely take medications at school.

 

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