2016-17 brings changes in the N. C. law and requirements for entering school

2016-17 brings changes in the N. C. law and requirements for entering school
August 11
05:25 2016



It seems as if the school year just ended for summer break, but no, it is time to start preparing for the 2016-17 school year to begin!

There have been some changes in the North Carolina law and requirements for not only kindergarten students and rising seventh graders, but also for students of any grade level who are entering the North Carolina public school system for the first time. (This category is inclusive of students from other states, countries, previously home-schooled students and students from private schools.)

Any child entering the public school system for the first time for the 2016-17 school year is required to have a health assessment. The health assessment can be done no sooner than 12 months prior to the date the child is eligible for entry into the public school system.

If you are a parent, guardian or person standing in “loco parentis” (which is fancy Latin wording for “in place of a parent”), it will be your responsibility to see that the requirements for school are fulfilled. You might ask, “What happens if I cannot or do not fulfill these requirements you are speaking of?” The answer is your child will be suspended from school until the missing health requirements are met.

The opening day for school in Forsyth County for the upcoming school year is Aug. 29. A 30-day count is used to determine the last day a student can attend school without the necessary requirements. The final day a student can attend school without meeting all requirements is Sept. 28. The first day of suspension would then be Sept. 29.

Let’s break this down category by category so nothing is missed, misconstrued and no child shall be subject to being suspended from school for any missing health requirements.

Kindergarten students,(ages 4-6 years old), are required to have a physical examination to include vision and hearing tests. The immunizations required for kindergarten are four or five doses of DTaP. The last dose must be given on or after the child’s fourth birthday.

As for polio, three, four or five doses can be given, but the last dose must be given on or after the child’s fourth birthday.

Three doses of Hep B are required and the last dose should be given on or after six months or 24 weeks of age.

Two doses of the measles vaccine are necessary and both doses must be given on or after the child’s first birthday.

Two Mumps vaccinations are required. One Rubella immunization is required. These will typically be listed as “MMR.”

The final required vaccination for entry into kindergarten is two doses of Varicella or a history of the disease known commonly as “chicken pox.” History of the disease must be documented by a health care provider.

Students entering the seventh grade are required to have the same vaccinations as kindergarten students with the following exceptions and/or additions. One Tdap vaccination is required as well as one meningococcal dose by age 12 or upon entering seventh grade, whichever comes first.

I understand this may be confusing. In North Carolina a grace period of 30 days is very generous. In some states, a child is not allowed to be enrolled in school without all requirements immediately in hand. The thought to take away from all this is to go ahead and make an appointment with a doctor, a clinic or the local health department as soon as possible. It might be easy to say that you have “all summer”, or you have “the 30-day grace period”, but trust me, as a parent and as a school nurse, appointments will be difficult to get.

Currently there are more than 4,000 students slated to start kindergarten in Forsyth County alone. The closer we get to the opening day of school and especially if you have waited and are now under the 30-day grace period, appointments fill up quickly. The school nurse consultant in your child’s school is an excellent resource. Don’t wait! Make the necessary appointments today!

Susan F. McInnes, RN, is a school nurse and Public Health nurse with the Forsyth County Health Department.

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