Sending Children with Complex Medical Concerns Back to School: A Comprehensive Guide

Sending Children with Complex Medical Concerns Back to School: A Comprehensive Guide

Sending children back to school is an exciting yet challenging process, and for families with children who have complex medical concerns, it's even more demanding. Careful planning, communication, and education can help children with medical conditions thrive in the school environment. Here's how:

Communicating with Teachers and School Staff

  • Share Essential Information: As a parent, don't hesitate to provide teachers with all necessary information about your child's medical condition, treatment, and daily needs. It's crucial that educators understand what's required to ensure your child's wellbeing.
  • Create a Medical Action Plan: Collaborate with healthcare providers to create a clear and concise medical action plan. Share this with teachers, school nurses, and staff, so they know exactly what to do in an emergency.
  • Maintain Regular Communication: Regular meetings with teachers can foster understanding and ensure your child's needs are met. Whether through email, phone calls, or in-person meetings, consistent communication builds trust and collaboration.

Teaching Children Self-Advocacy

  • Educate Them About Their Condition: Start by teaching your child about their medical condition in age appropriate language. Help them understand their symptoms, treatment, and when they might need assistance.
  • Roleplay Scenarios: Practice different situations that might arise at school, encouraging your child to ask for help when needed. Role-playing helps children feel more comfortable advocating for themselves.
  • Foster Independence: Encourage your child to take responsibility for their care, as appropriate for their age and condition. This may include taking medication, recognizing symptoms, and communicating with adults.

Tips for understanding the body systems and thriving with CHD

Staying Safe from Illness: Hygiene Tips

  • Handwashing: Teach your child the importance of regular handwashing with soap and water. Make it a fun routine by singing a song or making it a game.
  • Use Hand Sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be effective.
  • Avoid Close Contact with Sick Individuals: Educate your child about maintaining a safe distance from those who are sick, and encourage them to tell a teacher if they feel unwell.

Navigating COVID, RSV, and Flu Season: Impact on Education

  • Understand School Policies: Schools have implemented various protocols to mitigate the spread of illnesses, including COVID-19. Familiarize yourself with these protocols and discuss them with your child.
  • Consider Vaccinations: If eligible, and a good choice for your family, vaccines for COVID19, RSV, and the flu can offer protection. Talk with your healthcare provider about what's suitable for your child.
  • Monitor Symptoms: If your child shows symptoms of any illness, keep them home from school and consult with healthcare professionals. Early intervention can prevent the spread and allow for proper care.
  • Utilize Remote Learning Options: If your child is at higher risk, consider remote learning options that may be available, ensuring continuity in education without compromising health.

Personal Choices

Making decisions about schooling can feel overwhelming. Each family's circumstances are unique, and you are the expert on your child's needs. Trust your intuition; it won't steer you wrong.

For my family, the shutdown of 2020 was a pivotal moment. Our son had been struggling with anxiety and depression, so transitioning to at-home learning turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Though we never would have chosen this path without the pandemic forcing our hand, the experience was transformative for him. He continued with online learning through third, fourth, and fifth grade, building confidence, gaining self-awareness, and catching up academically.

As fifth grade ended, our son expressed a desire to return to in-person learning. Until that point, we had prioritized his mental and physical health by keeping him home. Making the decision to go back wasn't easy, but we finally settled on a hybrid approach.

In the mornings, our son stays with his online classroom for subjects like math, geometry, science, history, grammar, and spelling. Several days a week, he joins an in-person classroom for art, music, and reading. Knowing that he has a procedure for his pulmonary artery coming up before year's end, this approach gives him a gradual transition back to in-person learning and the flexibility to stay home during high sickness periods.

We recognize how fortunate we are to have two school systems willing to accommodate this plan, and we're grateful for our flexible work schedules. The ability to prioritize our son's needs is something we don't take for granted, and we know not every family has this luxury.


Navigating the schooling of children with complex medical concerns requires proper planning, open communication, and trust in your own judgment. Collaborating with teachers, empowering your child, and taking preventive measures ensures a secure and supportive environment.

Don't hesitate to ask for something different from your school system. They may say no, but by asking, you might find a solution that fits everyone's needs.

Finally, stand firm in your choices. No one else walks in your shoes or lives your daily life with your family. While others might have opinions on your decisions, it's up to you whether to consider them or not. Trust in yourself and your ability to make the best choices for your family.