Should students be able to take pain relievers, decongestants and other over-the-counter medications at school without a doctor's permission?
Yes, said three people who addressed Wichita school board members Monday.
"Sometimes children do have aches and pains," said Simone Khan, a former school nurse who addressed board members during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"Being able to administer an over-the-counter pain reliever can alleviate their discomfort and allow them to return to the classroom and carry on."
District policy requires a doctor's permission before a school nurse can administer any medication — prescription or over-the-counter. That's more restrictive than state law, which requires a doctor's note only for prescription medications.
"This contributes to lost class time, undue demands on families and unnecessary, undue paperwork for physicians," said Diane Wahto, a representative of the Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, who also urged the district to change its policy.
The doctor's-note requirement is particularly difficult for uninsured or underinsured families who may not have a regular doctor, Wahto said.
She said parents should be allowed to consent to over-the-counter medications during school days with a permission form that could be kept on file at the school. Several Kansas districts, including Olathe, Blue Valley and Augusta, offer such consent forms, she said.
State Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau also supported the policy change. The district's current policy is "violated constantly by parents who send over-the-counter medications with their children to school and advise them to take them during lunch when no one is looking," she said.
"I personally believe it is unreasonable to insist upon a physician's note if they have a headache," Faust-Goudeau said. "I would be a parent who would give my consent for the nurse to just provide a Bayer aspirin."
Superintendent John Allison said he planned to talk to school nurses and others about the policy and bring the issue back to board members in coming months.
"As we look at it, we may not have full-time nurses in all our buildings, so there are those aspects we'd need to weigh in our discussion," Allison said. "But we'll continue to look at that."
In other business Monday, board members unanimously approved a contract with Sauerwein Construction Co. for a $3.7 million addition and renovation to Gardiner Elementary School.
The project will add about 21,000 square feet to the school at 1951 S. Laura, which was built in 1924. The addition will include a new gymnasium and storm shelter and a new bus driveway.