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State regulates school meds

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
Beginning last year, the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Board of Nursing came together to develop guidelines for distributing medications in Alabama's public schools.
Before state guidelines took effect this school year, every school system had its own individual policies on medication in the schools, said Susan Prater, school nurse for Brewton City Schools.
One good thing that's come out of the new state guidelines, Prater said, is that more extensive training is required for school nurses and for school secretaries, who are responsible in most cases for actually administering medication to students.
Before this school year started, Prater attended a workshop and then held a training session for secretaries and other Brewton City School personnel who give medications.
Brewton City Schools' policy on administering medication states, "The goal of the school regarding the administration of medication during school hours is to assist students in maintaining an optimal state of wellness, thus enhancing the educational experience."
In each school system, the school nurse and administration have to be sure medications are stored, given and recorded properly.
Medications at Brewton City Schools are kept in either a locked box or a locked cabinet, Prater said.
For prescription medications, the original pharmacy-labeled container is required and must include the student's name, prescriber's name, name of medicine, strength, dosage, time interval, route and date for drug's discontinuation.
Also, the school recommends that no more than a six-week supply of medication should be stored at the school.
No medication can be kept in a student's possession without a doctor's permission.
Parents have several responsibilities when it comes to medicating their children at school.
A parent or parent-designated adult must bring all over-the-counter medication to the school and specify what the medication is, the dosage and under what circumstances it should be given.
To distribute prescriptions medications, the school must have a doctor's orders.
Controlled substances must be brought in by an adult and are counted and recorded by the school.
Both the doctor and parent must sign a "School Medication Prescriber/Parent Authorization Form" in order for a student to receive medication at school.
In some cases, the medication should only be administered at home, such as the first dose of a new medication or a change in dosage. Also, in the case of minor illnesses, schools feel those are best treated at home. Brewton City School policy states, "For example, a student with a cold severe enough to require medication should remain at home."
When students do not follow the school's guidelines on using or possessing medication at school, situations are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and any punishment is up to the principal's judgment, Prater said.