Pediatrics | Published August 25, 2020

Medicine at school: Tips for parents

It is important to know and take steps to ensure that school staff is ready to administer your child's medicine. Here are some tips to help make sure that your child can safely take needed medicine during this school year.

  1. Know your school's policies and procedures. Schools are likely to have different methods for students taking medicines during school hours, even within the same school district. Prescription and nonprescription medicines, including vitamins, taken on school grounds require written authorization from your child's doctor and written consent from parents. This is a requirement of the rules that school nurses must follow in most states. Ask your school for the medicine administration forms they use.
  2. Any medicines brought to school must be in the original labeled container prepared by the pharmacy, doctor, or pharmaceutical company (i.e., no envelopes, foil or baggies). The label should include the following:
    • Child's name
    • Name of medicine
    • Dosage of medicine to be given
    • Frequency of dose
    • Information on how medicine is given
    • Name of physician ordering medicine
    • Date of prescription
    • Expiration date
  3. Ask your pharmacist to divide your child's medicine into two bottles. Each bottle should have its own label so that one can be kept at home, and one can be held (if allowed) at the school.
  4. An adult should always transport medicines to the school and hand to another adult. 
  5. Your child should not carry medicines during school hours. Unless you, the doctor, or the school believe it is medically necessary for emergency use. If that is the case, make sure your child can safely handle and administer the medicine in case of an emergency. Generally, younger children are not mature enough to carry medicines. In these situations, schools should make sure there is immediate access to emergency medicines.
  6. Be sure to provide detailed instructions for school staff. School workers are not authorized to determine when an "as needed" medicine is to be given. For children with chronic health conditions, this can be determined in partnership with the consulting nurse.
  7. Field trips may create special challenges to giving medicines. Check with your child's doctor to see if medicines can be taken at a different time. Also, work with the school to ensure they are prepared to give medicine during field trip hours.