Taking Medications at School
Any medications required during school hours including prescription, “over-the-counter” (OTC) and homeopathic/herbal medications require a medication order signed by an approved health care provider and are subject to the HCPSS medication policy and procedure.
- Have a student with allergies? Learn more about ordering an epipen and our allergic reaction protocols →
- Have a student who is diabetic? This requires a different form. Learn more about medication procedures and school day protocols for diabetic students →
School health room staff administer medications, store medications in the school’s health room and keep records of when medications are taken by the student.
The items below are not considered medications. Students may bring the items to school without a medical prescription. Health Services requests that a parent/guardian note accompany the item to serve as permission to bring to school.
- Hand lotion
- Non-medicated cough drops
- Saline contact solution
Sunscreen must be supplied by an individual student and is not to be shared with other students due to potential allergens and skin reactions. It is recommended that a first application be applied at home prior to the start of the school day. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an SPF of at least 15 for sun protection.
Getting a medication to school
Step 1 – Have your family physician complete an order form and submit it to your school
A new medication order is required for every new school year dated on or after July 1.
All approved medication orders for the current school year are valid through summer school.
School nurses will evaluate the physician order for appropriate dosage amount. If any area of the order form needs clarification, the nurse will consult your family physician.
Step 2 – Label the medication
Once approved, the parent can begin readying the medication for school use.
Pharmacy medications must be consistent with the medication order and properly labeled. Pharmacy containers and labeling are required. To make it easier on parents, a second labeled container for school use can be obtained from your pharmacist. Physician samples must also be appropriately labeled by the physician or parent.
The following information must be on the label
- Name of the student
- Date of the medication order
- Name of the medication
- Route, time and frequency of the medication
- Dosage and strength of the medication
- Authorized health care provider name
Over the Counter Medications
Over the counter medications must be received in new, unopened containers and be clearly labeled with the student’s name.
Step 3 – Give a dose at home, drop off the medication
The first dose of any new prescription coming to the school must be given at home 24 hours before coming to school.
At the start of the school year, parents can drop off their student’s medication at the school after giving the first dose 24 hours before coming to school. Students cannot bring their own medications in.
Step 4 – Monitor the medication during the school year
Stopping the medication? Let your child’s school know and then pick up the medication.
Dose change? New medication? Parents have to submit a new order form.
Within one week after expiration of the effective date on physician’s order, the parent must personally collect any unused portion of the medication from the health room. Medication not claimed within that period will be destroyed.
At the end of the school year all medications not picked up by the parent will be disposed of.
Medications During Field Trips
Medications that are normally given during the school day and already have a form on file do not need a new form filled out for a field trip.
Overnight trip? Have a night-time or early morning medication? Taking a medication during a field trip that is normally administered before or after school hours requires a new order form. This needs to be submitted when field trip forms are due. The school nurse reserves the right to approve all new medications.
Need to self-carry during a field trip? Make sure that a family physician indicates that a student needs to self-carry. Allowing a student to self-carry medication is subject to approval by school administration.
Diabetic students follow different procedures →
Carrying a medication
During school hours, students may need to self-administer/carry medication such as inhalers or emergency medication. On a case-by-case basis, the school may allow a student to carry other medication on a school-sponsored field or event. A written medication order, signed by an authorized health care provider, that specifically states that the student needs to self-administer/carry medication must be submitted and approved by school administration.
Each student’s confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible by school staff. At times, school personnel outside of the health services program may need to be made aware by health services staff that a student is receiving medication in order to monitor effectiveness, possible side effects, adverse reactions, or in response to other legitimate school related issues or responsibilities. Information will be shared on a need-to-know basis only.
The Howard County Public School System does not assume responsibility for medication administered outside of the Health Services Medication Administration Procedure.
Questions about medication procedures? Contact the health staff at your child’s school or the HCPSS Health Services Office at 410-313-6812.