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Texting with the school nurse

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by mikegl31, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. mikegl31

    mikegl31 Approved members

    Mar 13, 2015
    Hello all,

    My son is 7 and in 2nd grade. For the past 2 years, the school nurse texts me throughout the day with questions regarding dosing - just quick, "He's 92 and going out for recess, would you give a few carbs?" Sometimes he's running high for a while and she'll text that he's been over 220 with corrections, should I raise the basal for an hour....Things like that. The school will not give her a cell phone, so she uses her personal phone. She sometimes texts me at night to review something she had done that day and the outcome. We use Share so I do see his numbers all day and she also has the share on some device there (not on her cell phone).

    Last week, the principal of the school found out that the nurse is doing this and has told her she cannot use her personal cell phone to text a parent. The principal states it is because medical information (his BG numbers) of a student is on her cell phone and if her cell phone were to be stolen then someone else would have private medical information about a student.

    Before I call the principal, I wanted to get my facts straight.

    I am not sure if this is some sort of regulation or if this is just the principal being nervous.
    If I give my consent as the parent of the child to allow the nurse text me, would that cover the school district legally for any concerns they would have if her cell phone was stolen?
    I am not sure this is something that could go in a 504.

    I actually work in education, so I asked my school nurse and she said she sometimes texts parents when they request. She did not see an issue with what was going on.

    Any input would be great. Thanks!
  2. Megnyc

    Megnyc Approved members

    Nov 8, 2012
    I don't have any knowledge of the specific laws but the principal's concern seems reasonable. An easy solution would be to use one of the texting apps that are used at hospitals which are secure and HIPAA compliant (though I am not sure HIPAA specifically applies to school nurses). The one I have used is expensive (I'm a medical student and they are trying it out right now) but I think tigertext has some free options.
  3. jenm999

    jenm999 Approved members

    Apr 30, 2014
    We had the same problem. So she texts me at my cell phone @vtext.com so it comes through to me as a text message. She gets the protection of using only school equipment and I get the immediacy of a text message. When I reply it comes to her as an email, so she needs to be sitting at her computer if she needs a quick response. Usually what ends up happening is that she email-texts me to inform me of something urgent (i.e. Fingerstick 58, have treated with 10g carbs or whatever) and calls if she has a question that requires a response from me.

    Here is a list of how to send a text message via email for various cell providers: http://20somethingfinance.com/how-to-send-text-messages-sms-via-email-for-free/
  4. Snowflake

    Snowflake Approved members

    Dec 1, 2013
    This is an interesting objection. I've never heard it before. Whatever you do, I would ask the principal if he has run this issue past the school district's legal department, because he might be on shaky legal ground. I would also be sure that the district ADA coordinator is looped in.

    The relevant federal law governing access to student education records is FERPA (there could be NJ state student privacy law as well). I don't think HIPAA applies to K12 nursing staff -- I am pretty sure that FERPA controls in that context. The FERPA standards are lower than the more well-known HIPAA privacy and security rules. These kinds of fleeting communications might not even count as "education records" under FERPA, and even if FERPA does apply, I don't think the federal regulators have adopted any binding "data security" standards under FERPA that would support the principal's concern here. And, yes, a consent to use texts should go a long way to resolve whatever unlikely liability the principal is worried about!

    The bigger issue is that your child's ADA/504 rights trump FERPA and any state student privacy laws. Whatever the school's concerns are, the school needs to find a convenient way for you and the nurse to have rapid communication in order to keep your child safe, healthy, and ready to learn. If the school won't allow her to text on her personal device, then I think you've got a good argument that the school owes you a reasonable accommodation of providing her a secure cellphone that remains in the office.
  5. Mish

    Mish Approved members

    Aug 20, 2009
    Request that the principal provide the nurse with a cell phone for this use only. You'll see how quickly it's no longer an issue. ;)

    A blood glucose number is not "medical information" that needs to be protected, IMO.
  6. kail

    kail Approved members

    May 18, 2014
    you mention that she has SHARE on some device and I am wondering what that device is. We managed to get our health clerk an ipad from the district and she uses a texting app to text us through the day from that. Its still personal info I guess but it is not on her cell phone and everyone seems ok with this. works for me.
  7. mikegl31

    mikegl31 Approved members

    Mar 13, 2015
    Thank you all for your replies. The school is going to purchase a cell phone for the nurse. They feel more comfortable with her texting me on a school device rather than her personal phone. I still don't fully understand their concern, but it makes no difference to me what phone the nurse uses, as long as we are able to continue to communicate and work together like we have for the past 2 years.
  8. Lakeman

    Lakeman Approved members

    Nov 10, 2010
    I'm glad it is working out for you.

    I think overall the principal is being nervous even if he is right.

    My nurse uses her personal cell for exactly the same reasons and I assume the principal knows. We have discussed it in the 504 but her personal cell phone is not written into the 504. The previous nurse used her cell phone too. For anyone else I would think a waiver or whatever would cover any privacy issues.
  9. Beach bum

    Beach bum Approved members

    Nov 17, 2005
    I can see where the school is coming from, albeit, they are nervous nellies. They did the right thing by purchasing a phone for the nurse and not making a bigger issue out of it.

    My kids started school when texting was just becoming more common place. The last few years, the nurses texted when they were on extended overnight field trips and it worked well as cell service was spotty, and texting more reliable.

    The benefit of the school having the "nurse" phone is that if someone is filling in, that phone will just be handed over and things should be able to move seamlessly. Glad all worked out.
  10. sarahspins

    sarahspins Approved members

    May 5, 2009
    I am not sure how relevant it really is to this conversation, but to be HIPPA compliant one only needs to have a passcode set on their phone... using a special app for messaging is really required.

    It seems like this is more of a district issue regarding personal cell phone usage than anything else.. if they are going to provide her with a "school" cell phone to serve the same purpose that really suggests that is the case.
  11. sammysmom

    sammysmom Approved members

    Oct 30, 2005
    If you have an old iPod laying around, give that to the nurse and install the free texting app. I did that for my kids for the longest time before I wanted them to have a real phone.

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