School Health 101

California schools offer varying levels of health services, from programs meeting minimum legal requirements to school-based health centers (SBHCs) that offer comprehensive medical, mental and/or oral health care. In all cases, school health services emphasize health promotion, early detection, and disease prevention to support student success in school.

Mandated Services

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

Read more about Mandated Services.

See this summary of selected California Education Code and California Health and Safety Code.

Expanded Program Models

Schools often choose to expand their school health services beyond mandated services to better meet the needs of students in their community. This can mean offering medical, mental health or oral health services, or programs to address specific health problems (such as asthma) or to promote healthier behaviors (such as healthier eating and more physical activity). School health services may be organized under different program models.

Expanded program models include:

  • SBHCs
  • School nursing programs
  • Student counseling or mental health programs
  • School-linked health services or telehealth services
  • Mobile clinics
  • Oral health programs
  • Health promotion programs

Read more about Expanded Program Models.