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News & Press: Advocacy

CSPD Provides School Absence Information and Assistance

Thursday, January 1, 2015  
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Dentists, and pediatric dentists in particular, are often challenged by parents anxious to avoid school absence, even when that absence is for the purpose of health care delivery. Although most practitioners establish scheduling policies and protocols intended to minimize pupil absence in a manner consistent with the patient’s age, the nature of the service provided, and fairness to all families in the practice, many are still confronted with school policies that seem or profess to prohibit absence from school for the delivery of dental care during school hours.

As pediatric dentists, we recognize the importance of regular school attendance and the effect on education of chronic absence. We also recognize the negative financial implications to the school from the state when daily attendance is reduced. For these reasons, we have long urged our members to work with parents and with schools to minimize attendance disruption for oral health services ----- and better oral health through regular preventive care visits is one strategy for accomplishing this goal. It is not realistic, however, to expect that all pediatric and adolescent oral health care services can be delivered outside of school hours. In fact, state law [California Education Code §48205(a)(3)] specifically provides that "a pupil shall be excused from school when the absence is for the purpose of having medical, dental, optometrical, or chiropractic services rendered."

In an effort to provide clarity on this issue to dentists, parents, and school educators, the California Society of Pediatric Dentistry has joined with the California Dental Association to provide a downloadable Message to Parents and School Administrators Regarding School Absence for Dental Appointments. This one-page information sheet, which contains Oral Health Facts for Children, may be downloaded from the CSPD and CDA websites for printing and distribution by dentists and their staffs.

In addition, CSPD has developed a template for a School Attendance Release Form which may be downloaded from the CSPD website and customized by members for individual office printing and distribution (This is a MS Word doc file). The form contains reference to §48205(a)(3) of the Education Code.

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