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A School Bus Trip to New School Year Success: School Health Edition

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Growing up in Massachusetts, the school year kicked off around Labor Day in early September. I’d go to bed with my first day of school outfit picked out. And since I walked to school each day in elementary school, living just a quarter mile away, by the time I entered sixth grade I couldn’t wait to ride the bus: what would it be like?

In the new-to-me middle school building, I underwent new classes along with a host of standard health screenings. I never thought about the notes associated with my vision or hearing screenings, or asked my mom about my vaccination records. I never questioned why I was handed a stack of paper at the beginning of each school year that I was supposed to give to my parents.

You understand the importance of those notes, records, and paper stacks. You know that each new school year doesn’t happen thanks to magic, unless you consider hard work magical.

In your journey toward a successful new school year, let’s take a virtual school bus trip for a few minutes. Along the way, we’ll look at a few factors that can contribute to that success.

A School Bus Trip to New School Year Success

Each stop along the way represents something you can do to make this school year a great one for everyone at your district.

Stop One: Student Enrollment

Anyone involved in student health will require visibility into the students they’re supporting.

Of course, student enrollment is tracked in your student information system, so if you have an EHR that integrates with your SIS, you can avoid some redundant work. It’s important that providers have access to student demographics, too, so that they can better prepare for their caseloads. Student information can also help ensure that providers have enough of the prescriptions they need, too.

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When you have a good view of your student enrollment, it’s easier to be aware of any students transitioning between buildings, ensure that health providers are assigned to the correct campus, and inform providers of their assigned campus. And of course, student immunizations are another critical piece, especially for school nurses.

If you have a system like Frontline School Health Management, all of this information is easily accessible to any users whose roles require it. And important details like students’ immunization records are easily imported to the system at the time of enrollment, too. Students are the foundation of every school, so getting student enrollment right is the first stop on our way to a successful year — it’s almost like a GPS for our bus.

That GPS is taking us to scheduling next.

Stop Two: Scheduling

When you’re starting your day, you probably begin by looking at your schedule to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings. The new school year is similar, just on a larger scale. It’s ideal if you can add any non-attending days for students and/or faculty ahead of time.

Then there’s the scheduling for group events like vision and lice screenings. If your school engages parent or guardian volunteers for such events, you’ll need to communicate with them.

Depending on how many nurses, counselors, and other providers you have in your district, you may also need to think about travel time for these professionals. And if you have students who require services outside of the classroom based on their IEPs, you’ll need to coordinate with Student Services.

Stop Three: Security

Student data is more vulnerable than adult data, and it’s the district’s responsibility to keep that information safe. K12 Information Exchange releases annual reports on cybersecurity, and their reports have shown that since 2016, 1,331 incidents have been reported, with 2020 being a record-high year for security incidents.

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If your system has security roles, you’ll likely need to update them to reflect any staff changes. Even if you haven’t experienced any turnover, you might have staff who didn’t require system access over the summer. Those individuals might need their access reinstated with any required edits.

Remember those stacks of papers I went home with on my first day of school? That probably wasn’t the most secure method of communicating with parents, but fortunately, there are much better ways today. Frontline’s EHR gives you and students’ guardians a user-friendly way to communicate in a secure portal.

Of course, security is relevant year-round, so part of your back-to-school prep might include reviewing and informing all staff of your district’s security procedures and information privacy policies.

We’ve got one more stop on our journey. Let’s go!

Stop Four: Tracking Services

Anyone working in Student Services might be keenly aware of the need to track services even on the first day of school, especially if you’re trying to maximize your Medicaid reimbursements. If you choose a single vendor for both your school nursing program and service tracking program, you’ll have one point of entry for submitting claims, giving you a fuller picture of how health services impact your Medicaid reimbursements, and ensuring that no eligible claims are missed.

A tip: if your state has embraced Free Care, this could be especially helpful in tracking mental health services.

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The Destination: A Fabulous New School Year!

You made it! Your providers will be ready to support students, and will feel supported themselves, making everyone’s first day of school smoother. If you have an EHR, don’t forget to check in with your vendor and review any release notes from product updates completed over the summer.

As a kid who wasn’t used to taking the bus to school, I remember the nurse’s office fondly. Our nurse helped alleviate my headaches and nausea thanks to the motion sickness brought on by the bus. Without their care, I wouldn’t have had the chance to be as focused in the classroom. Even simple student encounters can make a big difference in a student’s life and academic trajectory.

This trip flew by, much like this school year likely will, too. You’re ready!