Occasionally, your student may be ill and unable to attend school for an extended period of time. If your student will be absent for 14 days or more for medical reasons, he may be entitled to educational services. Massachusetts regulations provide that: “Upon receipt of a physician’s written order verifying that any student … must remain at home or in a hospital on a day or overnight basis, or any combination of both, for medical reasons and for a period of not less than fourteen school days in any school year, the principal shall arrange for provision of educational services in the home or hospital.” 603 CMR 28.03(3)(c).
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides a form for physicians to use to request home or hospital educational services (Form 28/R, available on the DESE website). Use of the form is not required. However, any statement from your physician in support of home or hospital educational services MUST contain the following: the date the student was admitted to a hospital or was confined to home; the medical reason(s) for the confinement (with some specificity); the expected duration of the student’s hospitalization or home confinement (>13 days? >60 days?); and what medical needs the school should consider in planning the home or hospital education services.
Further, to ensure sufficiency, this additional information should be included: the student’s diagnosis (related to the absence from school); the length of time the student has been under the physician’s care; when the student was last seen by the physician; an explanation of the medical condition that prevents the student from attending school; an indication if the condition is serious and/or chronic; and, if applicable, a discussion of how the student’s medical condition affects his educational performance (e.g., strength, vitality, or alertness is significantly limited and affects access to the educational environment).
Because school districts often deny requests for home-hospital educational services based on the insufficiency of physicians’ statements, it is important to explain to your student’s doctor what information must be included.