Managing medication at school

A young girl in a school uniform, sitting at the kitchen table, takes a prescription pill from her mother’s hand.

Back-to-school tips to keep your kids safe and healthy

New backpack? Check. School books? Check. Inhaler? Well ... that’s not quite as simple.

About 1 in 4 children in the U.S. has a chronic health condition, such as asthma or diabetes.1 And if you’re the parent of one of these kids, your back-to-school preparation involves more than buying school supplies.

Medication adherence — that is, taking medication correctly and as prescribed — starts at an early age, like so many other good habits. Making sure children understand the importance of proper treatment now can help put them on the road to healthier choices.

If your child uses prescription medications during school hours, here are some tips to help keep them safe and adherent to their therapy.

Know your school’s rules: Who is allowed to administer medication, and who fills in if the person is absent? Is your child allowed to carry the medication and take it without supervision?

Provide clear instructions: Prepare a typed list of all medications with warnings and storage requirements. Also include an action plan school staff can refer to in an emergency. Make sure your child, teachers, and the appropriate school administrator have current copies.

Know how your child will receive the medication: Will they be expected to report to a certain place at a certain time, or will they be called to do so? What is the policy for field trips?

Keep your child informed: Your child should be aware of the basics of their condition — signs of an allergic reaction, a flare-up, or side effects of the medication. Your child should know proper dosages and be aware of when and how often they’re supposed to take it.

Keep tabs on the supply: If the medication will be stored at school, check often to ensure there is an adequate supply so there are no missed doses and that the expiration date has not passed. Make sure the medication stays in its original container and label.

A.M. game plan: School mornings can be hectic, so try to integrate the morning dose into the morning routine. Also have a back-up plan in place if that morning dose is missed and your child needs to take it at school.

Helpful tools and resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers school toolkits and other helpful resources for some of the most common chronic health conditions.

Express Scripts® Pharmacy offers 24/7 access to specially trained pharmacists by phone or email, so you can get the answers you need whenever you need them. We also have licensed pharmacists with knowledge about treating specific conditions, including asthma, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC Healthy Schools, Managing Chronic Health Conditions (last updated May 29, 2019):

Posted date: August 20, 2021

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