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Department Overview

School health services in BCSD are provided by professional registered nurses. Our school nurses have a multi-faceted role within the school setting, one that supports the physical, mental, emotional, and social health of students and their success in the learning process. Our nurses provide a variety of school health services, functions and programs. These services are based upon current evidence, best practices, and professional school nursing standards.

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Attendance Matters

When your child misses school, they are missing opportunities to learn, gain confidence, build relationships, and be inspired!

Regular school attendance has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in kindergarten and continuing throughout high school. Students are less likely to succeed if they are chronically absent — which means missing 10% (or about 18 days) over the course of an entire school year. Chronic absenteeism incorporates all absences including excused and unexcused. These absences can lead to academic consequences from the loss of instructional time. We recognize that students miss school for many understandable issues, such as illness.  Here is a resource that will help you decide When Should I Send My Child to School? [PDF].

Research shows:

  • Children chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
  • By 6th grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.
  • By 9th grade, good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than 8th grade test scores.

Missed days can add up quickly! Missing just a few days a month can add up to several school weeks missed in a year. We don’t want your child to fall behind in school and get discouraged.

Parent Resources:

Parent Websites:

Body Mass Index Information

As part of a required school health examination, a student is weighed and his/her height is measured. These numbers are used to figure out the student’s body mass index or ‘BMI’. The BMI helps the doctor or nurse know if the student’s weight is in a healthy range or is too high or too low. New York State Education Law requires that BMI and weight status group be included as part of the student’s school health examination. Each year, a sample of school districts are selected to take part in a survey by the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

The Bethlehem Central School District has been selected to submit its information to DOH in 2019-20.  The physical exams received during the 2018-19 school year will be used for that NYS report. When surveyed by the state, only summary information is sent. No names or information about individual students are sent. The NYSDOH report requests summary information of physicals conducted in the 2018-19 school year. Parents may choose to have a child’s information excluded from this survey report. If you would like to do so, please download the opt-out form and return the completed form to your child’s school nurse.

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Concussion Management and Awareness Information:

On July 1, 2012, New York State enacted the Concussion Management and Awareness Act. The Commissioner of Education worked with the Commissioner of Health to produce guidelines for school districts to follow in protecting the health and well-being of concussed students. The Bethlehem Central School District has responded to the New York State Concussion Management and Awareness Act by developing a district-wide Concussion Management Protocol. This Protocol outlines procedures for district staff, parents, and students to follow in managing head injuries; as well as guidance in returning to activities following a concussion. Visit the Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education’s policies page for concussion policies and protocols. The goals of Bethlehem’s concussion management include:

  • Education regarding head injuries and concussion
  • Prompt emergency response to head injuries
  • Appropriate medical follow-up
  • Return to play/activities guidance

The law specifies that coaches, athletic trainers, physical education teachers and school nurses receive state approved biennial training regarding concussion awareness and management. Bethlehem Central also believes that it is important for parents and students to also have access to head injury and concussion materials.

Online Resources:

Below are some resources to obtain additional information about concussions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

New York State Department of Health

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Absence or Dismissal from School During COVID

If your child is absent from school — or is sent home from school by the school nurse — with one or more symptoms of COVID-19, the student must remain at home until evaluated and cleared to return to school. The forms below were developed by the BCSD Health Services Team to assist parents with monitoring symptoms and seeking timely care and testing. 

The district will also follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidance on a return to physical activity following COVID-19. The following forms are to be completed by a child’s physician following a diagnosis of COVID-19. One is for students who compete in interscholastic athletics; the other is for non-athletes K-12.

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Dental Certificates

New York State Education Law 903, Chapter 281, permits schools to request a dental examination report for all newly enrolled students, and for students in grades K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. Dental Health Certificates are to be completed by parent or guardian and the child’s dentist. Completed certificates should be sent to your school nurse.

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Dismissal for Illness or Injury During School

All students who are ill or injured must be dismissed through the health office. Students are encouraged to report to the health office any illness or injury that occurred at school. This will ensure proper care and insurance claim processing. The facilities in school are not designed to take care of ill or injured students for any length of time. Parents are expected to make arrangements to have their ill or injured child picked up at school.

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Emergency Health Information

Parents are required to provide emergency contact information, which may include friends or relatives to be called in case of illness or injury if the parents cannot be reached. It is important to inform the school in writing of changes to this emergency contact information.

The information the district currently has on file for your student(s) can be viewed in Aspen. Please review this information and provide any updates to District Registrar Melissa Haas, via email, at

If the district is unable to reach you, the school may not release your child to anyone other than the person or persons listed in case of emergency. Parents are also required to provide updated health information on a separate form. This includes allergies, medications, (both prescription and over-the-counter medications), and recent health information. This health information should be returned to your child’s school nurse. All information is kept on file by the nurses only.

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Immunization Requirements

Public Health Law 2164, as amended by Chapter 35 of the Laws of 2019, prohibits a school from permitting any child to be admitted to such school, or to attend such school, in excess of 14 days without sufficient evidence that the child has received all age-appropriate required vaccinations. The 14 days may be extended where the student is transferring from out of state or from another county and can show a good faith effort to get the necessary evidence or where the parent, guardian or any other person in parental relationship can demonstrate that a child has received the first age-appropriate dose in each immunization series and that they have age-appropriate scheduled appointments for follow-up doses to complete the immunization services in accordance with the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 through 18.

Acceptable proof of immunizations is a health care practitioner record, signed by a practitioner licensed in New York State. Records acceptable without a signature include:  NYSIIS Record; Official registry from another State; Official record from a foreign nation, Electronic health record; School health record, (must be transferred directly from one school to another).

Demonstrated serologic evidence of measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella or all three serotypes of polio antibodies is acceptable proof of immunity to these diseases. Diagnosis by a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner that a child has had varicella disease is acceptable proof of immunity to varicella. Please be advised that students not in compliance with the required immunization requirements, or those lacking proof of satisfactory progress toward completion, will be excluded from attending school until adequate proof is submitted.

Under a new law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo (Chapter 35 of the Laws of 2019), exemptions based on religious beliefs will no longer be allowed for the childhood vaccines that are currently required for entry or attendance at school in New York State. 

If you have any questions, please contact your building nurse or principal.

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Medication Information & Policy

New York State Education Department Guidelines state that ALL medications, including over-the-counter medications, given at school, require the following:

  • A written order from your child’s physician stating the name of the medication, dosage, frequency and time of administration;
  • Written statement from the parent or guardian requesting administration of the medication in school; and
  • Delivery of the medication to the health office by parent or guardian in a properly labeled “original” /pharmacy container.

At the secondary level, emergency medications such as epi-pens and inhalers can be carried by those students who are determined to be self-directed with written orders from the student’s medical provider.

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Physical Exam Requirements

A physical exam is required for all children entering this school system for the first time and for all children entering grades K-1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. Proof of this exam must be a signed physical appraisal form from a New York State licensed medical provider. (A physical exam performed within the 12 months prior to the start of the school year is acceptable. All forms are due by the first week of October.) If such an examination is not provided, the school is required by law to provide the exam at the school’s expense. We prefer that parents make appointments to have the family doctor complete the physical as he/she will perform a more complete physical exam and will give the required immunizations.

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School Health Screenings

New York State Education Law, (Article 19, Section 905), and the Commissioner’s Regulations, Section 136.3, requires that schools provide the following health screenings:

  • Vision screening for color perception, distance, and near vision acuity will be required for new entrants within 6 months of admission to school.
  • Distance and near vision acuity will be required for all students in grades K, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 11.
  • Hearing screening will be required for students in grades K, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 11; and, for new entrants within 6 months of admission to school.
  • Scoliosis screening will be required in grades 5 and 7 for girls and grade 9 for boys.

Parent(s) will be notified if there are any concerns during their child’s screening. Results of all screenings will be documented in the student’s school health record.

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School Insurance

The district carries accident insurance for all students in grades K-12. The insurance plan provides excess, or secondary, coverage. In the event of accidental injury to a student, parents should first submit the claim to their own health and accident carrier. If the claim is not payable or is in excess of the coverage provided, the remainder is submitted to the school plan for payment.

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Sports Information for Secondary Students

Interested students must sign up to participate in the athletics program through the health offices at the middle and high schools. The following forms are required to play a sport:

  1. Current physical exam (within 12 months of the start of the sport’s season). This physical exam MUST have a documented vision exam which notes specific numerical results, i.e. 20/20.
  2. Sports Update Form (to be completed by a parent/guardian within 30 days of the start of the sport’s season.  This form will be provided to you by the health office.)
  3. Emergency Medication Orders from a Medical Provider, if your child has needs emergency medications such as an inhaler, epinephrine, glucagon, etc., please contact your health office with any questions surrounding medication orders.
    Secondary Students Emergency Medication Form [PDF]
  4. Illness/injury clearance by a medical provider, if needed. You will be contacted by the health office if such clearance is required.

If parents or students have any questions, please contact your school nurse.

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