It's the beginning of a fresh new school year. Parents are rushing to the store to pick up backpacks and washable markers, while students are texting their friends to find out if they're in the same World History class. The last thing on anyone's mind is making sure all of their student health forms are filled out and submitted to the school.
But, you and I both know that having complete health forms on file for every student before classes start is essential to keeping students safe. It increases everyone's preparedness for emergencies and natural disasters, and it makes day-to-day student care at school easier, too. So in the interest of safety, it's time to make sure parents and/or students are turning in their health forms - before the first day of school, and before the first chance of an accident or emergency.
Here are the three steps to accomplishing that task:
#1: Get support from your administrative team.
A dress code doesn't save lives, but health information can. So why should schools enforce a dress code but not require parents and/or students to complete all health forms before the start of the school year?
That's a question that struck a chord with us, and with our clients who attended Magnus Academy. It's also a question that supports a policy change - and a somewhat drastic one.
Ask that same question to your administrative team, and then ask them for their support to implement a zero tolerance policy for incomplete health forms. What they'll realize is that schools cannot afford not to enforce a zero tolerance policy regarding health information because of the associated risk and liability. When a student has an unexpected severe allergic reaction, they need to be treated quickly and appropriately. Without the correct student health forms on file, providing fast and proper care in an emergency is difficult.
That's why full administrative support is key. With the whole school behind you, you can increase emergency preparedness, and decrease risk.
#2: Prepare a strategy for implementation.
Now that your administrative team is on the same page, it's time to prepare your parents, and school, for your new policy.
Prepare yourself, though. Rolling out a zero tolerance policy will take time. Behavioral changes must take place on both the school and parent sides, but the school must initiate those changes to see results.
That means you need a schedule, and strong parent communication, to keep everyone on track when you implemenent a zero tolerance policy. We've developed a recommended schedule for you to follow (complete with sample communication templates) to make your policy transition as easy as possible.
#3: Execute, with no exceptions.
Your plan is set, and you have the whole school supporting a new zero tolerance policy for incomplete health forms. Now, it's time to track all the health forms coming in, and to make no exceptions.
"No exceptions" may sound harsh, but that's why effective parent communication is vital. When you give parents plenty of warning, and clearly convey your stance on the issue, parents will understand your level of dedication to zero tolerance. Then, they’re going to abide more quickly and easily, particularly in subsequent years.
Get more information, and policy change guidance with our full Zero Tolerance Policy Toolkit.
Have you implemented a zero tolerance, or similar, policy? What strategy did you use to implement it? Tell us in the comments below.