Some health services are required for all students by California Education Code or Health and Safety Code, and others are required for certain students as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These services are typically provided by school personnel, such as school nurses, but they may be provided by other staff depending on the level of service and related legal or credentialing requirements.
The primary mandated school health services are:
- Special education related services
- School-based prescription medication administration, vision, hearing, and Scoliosis screening
See this summary of selected California Education Code and California Health and Safety Code.
List of Mandated Health Services
Special Education-Related Services
These include health assessments and treatments required for students with disabilities, as indicated by a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and as outlined in IDEA. School nurses, school psychologists, speech therapists and other health professionals may be involved in both initial and triennial special education health assessments, as well as indicated treatments, such as gastric tube feedings or catheterizations.
School-Based Prescription Medication Administration
This is sometimes required for students whose education may be impeded by a health condition that requires administration of a prescription medication during school hours. Any student who is required to take medication prescribed for him by a physician may be assisted by the school nurse or other designated school personnel if the school district receives (1) a written statement from such physician detailing the method, amount, and time schedules by which such medication is to be taken and (2) a written statement from the parent or guardian of the student indicating the desire that the school district assist the student in the matters set forth in the physician’s statement. See the California Department of Education’s Program Advisory on Medication Administration.
Vision, Hearing and Scoliosis Screenings
These are required at specific intervals and grade levels in California. Schools must conduct vision screening on all students upon school entry and every third year thereafter through grade eight. For example, vision testing may be done in kindergarten or first grade and in grades two, five, and eight, as well as on enrollment and referral at any grade level. Learn more about vision screening. Hearing screening is mandated in kindergarten/first grade and in second, fifth, eighth, tenth/eleventh grade and upon first school entry (California Code of Regulations, Title 17, Section 2952 (c)(1)) . Hearing screening in California public schools must be conducted by a credentialed school audiometrist. Note that Local Education Authorities may apply for a waiver for the high school hearing testing requirement.
The state scoliosis screening mandate was suspended and it is uncertain whether it will be reinstated. Some school districts continue to conduct scoliosis screenings for girls in seventh grade and boys in eighth grade. Learn more about scoliosis screening.
Other Health Requirements
While we do not focus on this here, there are also health requirements for students to be able to enroll in school, including a physical exam, oral health screening, and certain immunizations.