What comes to mind when you hear "zero tolerance"? Drugs? Weapons? Dress code? I'd like to suggest that zero tolerance has a rightful place in health form compliance as well.
The beauty of zero tolerance, as it relates to compliance, is that it's entirely enforceable, and deals more with enforcing action by the parents before the start of school, than student behavior on a daily basis during the school year. In essence, a zero tolerance health form compliance policy mandates that all required health information be submitted prior to the start of school, and in the event that anything is missing, the student is denied entry to school, athletics, or any school-related trip.
We work with many schools who are hesitant to take a firm stance about health form compliance, mainly out of a fear of being demanding with parents. But here's the reality - the health information schools require on their students can be critical, life-saving information. Allergies, medications, chronic health conditions, emergency contacts - all of this information is needed when a student health crisis arises.
When a student is at school, the school is responsible for the child's well-being and without the proper information, school personnel cannot fulfill their duties. Think of it this way - every school has a dress code if not a uniform. Dress codes are enforced, and students are sent home if they do not abide by the rules. A dress code isn't going to mean the difference in life and death during an allergic reaction - but health information very well can. So why would a school enforce a zero tolerance policy on something so superficial, but back down when it comes to critical health care?
It simply doesn't make sense, and that's why we encourage schools to takea strong zero tolerance stance when considering their compliance policies. Inform the parents of what is required, when it is due, and the repercussions of not following through on submitting the information. Then, on the first day of school, or the first day of summer practice, if that information isn't in the school's posession, the student should be denied entry. It's as simple as that. We've found that when schools take a firm stance on this policy, and explain why they're enforcing the policy, parents are only too willing to submit the information in a timely manner.
We've built several zero tolerance tools for school use, including these 3 Keys to Obtaining Health Form Compliance. Check these out for a brief look into Zero Tolerance, or skip right to the good stuff and download our Zero Tolerance Policy Toolkit. This toolkit will walk you through all the reasoning behind the policy, as well as parent communications and schedules to implement and enforce it. With these tools in hand, I think you'll find that a zero tolerance policy really can be your friend.