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In Cheerful Defense of Health Forms

Having successfully enrolled my own three children in many dozens of camps and schools over the years, I was already quite the authority on the dreaded health form experience even before I became a School Nurse. This is just not the fun part of parenting. Let’s get that right out in the open. We don’t like deadlines and limits and tedious errands. We don’t like looking up various identification numbers to copy onto forms. We don’t like waiting around doctor’s offices. There is basically nothing we like about the whole process.

Recognizing the near-universal distaste for this experience, we have tried to make the health form process at Brooklyn Friends as clean, quick, and hassle-free as possible. To that end, we contract with Magnus Health to collect, sort, and securely store our students’ health information. The Health Services team has worked hard over the past year to make this process as painless as possible, as I have detailed in letters to parents. Here are a few points about health forms that I ask you to kindly remember.

Why should children get annual Physical Exams if they are healthy? Annual exams are a very important safeguard against serious illnesses. They are also important times for trained professionals to assess and track growth and development. Finally, they keep children on schedule with their mandatory immunizations, of which I am an enthusiastic cheerleader: vaccines save lives—many, many lives. I have at times had parents inform me that they “know” their child is fine, that no well-child exam is necessary. Please don’t ask to skip or delay it; our answer will always be no. Even if your children appear to be perfectly healthy, they are not just small adults; a lot can change in their bodies from year to year.

What does the school do with the information collected? When you send in your child’s health form, you are helping to ensure a positive experience for your whole family at Brooklyn Friends. We use the information to prepare the cafeteria to accommodate food sensitivities, to advise teachers of seating arrangements for children with vision problems, to alert coaches to children with asthma, to ensure compliance with vaccine laws in case of outbreaks, and to respond quickly and correctly in emergencies—to name just a few of the ways that this data protects our students.

Please be as open and forthcoming with our office as possible. Our policy of confidentiality is to share vital health information only on a strictly “need-to-know” basis. For instance, the Dining Room Director does not need to know about psychiatric medications, but does need to know about gluten sensitivity, whereas the opposite may be true for the School Psychologists. And the School Nurses need to know about all of it! Please trust our discretion in this area.

We seek to be in partnership with you to care for your wonderful children. We take our role in that care very seriously by reading each of the forms of our nearly one thousand students ourselves. But first, you have to submit them! Thank you so much for your role in this partnership.