School nurse shortage

Nationwide, only about half of schools have a full-time registered nurse. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a nurse should be present full time at every school. But faced with budget cuts many schools are opting to have a nurse onsite only part time, or not at all, meaning many schools are relying on teachers and staff to dispense medication, treat injuries and handle emergencies. At the same time children are going to school with complex medical needs, like food allergies and asthma.

So if your child needs medication during school what can you do? Make sure you give explicit instructions to the person in charge of dispensing your child’s medication. And make sure to label it clearly. For more serious conditions like asthma, diabetes or epilepsy ask your pediatrician to submit an action plan to the school that outlines the necessary steps. For example--when a student with asthma should use a rescue inhaler - when a student with diabetes should be given insulin - or what to do in case of a seizure.

Consumer Reports also says know your rights. A federal law - commonly known as the 504 Plan - says schools must accommodate the specific needs of your child, if your child has a disability and is eligible. And allow your child to participate safely and equally alongside his or her peers during a normal school day.

Consumer Reports

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