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Specialized Student Support Services
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School Nursing in Iowa

The Iowa school nurse holds a current registered nursing license recognized by the Iowa board of nursing to professionally practice, promote and protect the health of the school population using knowledge from the nursing, social and public health sciences. All students, as a healthcare consumers, have the right to nursing care that meets the legal standards of healthcare regardless of the practice setting (Nation Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2005). The school nurse retains accountability to provide the consumer this right of protection by following safe parameters to work as defined in the Iowa Nurse Practice Act (Iowa Administrative Code 655-6). Any health service provided to students in the school setting that constitutes nursing or any activity representing nursing is a regulatory responsibility of the Iowa board of nursing.

The school nurse is the licensed professional practitioner in the school community to oversee health services, policies and programs. The school nurse practices to provide students healthcare to minimize absenteeism and promote equal access to education. Nursing services assist parents or legal guardians to reasonably meet compulsory regulations of attendance for their child with mental or physical health needs (Iowa Code 299). Using professional nursing judgment and clinical knowledge, the registered nurse provides health care to students and staff, performs health screenings, develops individualized plans of care, provides health education, provides case management, coordinates referrals for students to the medical home or private healthcare provider, and assists the education team in early identification of learners needing accommodations or specialized instruction (American Nurses Association and National Association of School Nurses, 2011).

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School Nurse Community

  • School Nurse Google Group - A communication tool for school nurses in Iowa to request information and advice from other school nurse professionals and receive information from the Iowa Department of Education. To be added to the group, email Melissa Walker at
  • School Nurse Google Site - A website for school nurses in Iowa that includes online orientation, resources regarding complex disease management, health services resources all things related to nursing practice. Email Melissa Walker at to access the site
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School Nurse Resources

504 - The school nurse is an integral multidisciplinary team member in assisting schools to close the gap of early identification of child find for students who may need additional accommodations or specialized instruction. School nurses are encouraged to notify the special education director and 504 coordinator upon the development of the Individual Student Health Plan (IHP), annually thereafter, or whenever a substantial change in student health occurs requiring the IHP to be amended. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, effective January 1, 2009, impacted school nursing. In 2015, the Iowa Department of Education sent out a Memorandum: Intersection of 504/ADA and Individual Health Plans letter reminding schools of this correlation.

Bloodborne Pathogens Employee Requirements - Schools are required to provide Bloodborne Pathogen training and school nurses often request information regarding the Hepatitis B vaccination series requirements. The de minimus classification for not offering the pre-exposure Hepatitis B vaccination series to school personnel does not apply to healthcare personnel expected to render first aid in the course of their work. The following resources are available:

Note: The de minimus classification for not offering the pre-exposure Hepatitis B vaccination series to school personnel does not apply to healthcare personnel expected to render first aid in the course of their work.

Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments - School nurses perform tests in the daily course of their work for students and school employees (e.g. blood glucose tests, ketone urine checks, strep throat swabs, Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association required school transportation drivers drug and alcohol testing). Schools that perform less than 15 types of tests in the course of business fall under the Department's statewide waiver to meet the requirement for all schools with the State of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory.

Delegation and the Iowa School Nurse - Iowa school nurse delegation, decision making, and documentation. This resource assists school nurses and leadership teams to understand delegation of health services. 

  • Scope of Practice and Regulation of School Nurses - A 4-13-21 memorandum from the Iowa Board of Nursing addresses the scope of practice allowed for the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) in Iowa schools.

Voluntary Stock Emergency Medication Supply - School boards and school authorities may adopt a policy to voluntarily stock epinephrine auto-injectors, opioid antagonists, bronchodilators, or bronchodilators and canisters. The school nurse delegates medication administration. Qualified personnel administering medications, to include stock emergency medications, must complete the medication administration course provided by the department, complete an annual skills check with the school nurse and complete an annual awareness training for the use of stock emergency medications. The awareness training covers when stock medications should be administered to individuals or students who have not received a formal diagnosis or prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. These trainings are part of the general medication administration course that is a requirement to administer any medication in schools.

Annual Awareness Trainings

  1. Stock Bronchodilator Video (December 2022) - Iowa American Lung Association
  2. Stock Epinephrine Auto-Injector Video (August 2023) - Iowa School Nurse Organization
  3. Stock Opioid Antagonist Video (2022) - Iowa Health and Human Services

School districts and schools utilize the reporting for when voluntary stock emergency medications are administered:

Evaluation for the School Nurse - School nurses develop professional portfolios for evaluation purposes with school leadership. Resources for evaluation of clinical and professional standards of the school nurse.

Iowa Physicians Order for Scope of Treatment (IPOST) - On Sept. 5, 2019, the Director issued a supervisory order regarding school compliance with physician’s order for scope of treatment. This supervisory order explains to schools that school nurses and other health care providers employed by schools and AEA must comply with physician orders for scope of treatment under Iowa Code chapter 144D ("IPOST"), including when an IPOST contains orders regarding life-sustaining procedures (e.g., an order to not perform CPR or call 911). This order also notes that other school personnel may comply with IPOST forms. This order makes clear that the prior attorney general opinion on do-not-resuscitate orders and other life-sustaining procedures declarations interpret a different statute.

Iowa School Health Legal Reference Summary - A compilation of links to federal regulations, state regulations, Iowa administrative codes, and resources that are summarized and are not a substitute for actual law.

Iowa School Medical Cannabidiol Guidance - A guidance document for schools regarding the use of medicinal marijuana and management of hazardous and medication waste. In 2017, the Iowa legislature enacted a law that created the “Medical Cannabidiol Program” (Iowa Code 124EIowa Administrative Code 641.154). The guidance covers school district employee use of medical cannabidiol, student use of medical cannabidiol, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, School Nurse’s administration of medical cannabidiol, and school employees asked to become “care providers” for students under the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Act.

Individual Health Plan Template and Reference Document - The continuity of nursing and healthcare service delivery from home to school is vital for students with stable or unstable ongoing health needs to access educational programs. Using the nursing process, the school nurse develops the Individual Health Plan (IHP) with a student-centered approach in partnership with parents, the student, healthcare providers, or the education team. The fillable template and instructional reference document are available for collaboration and use by the school nurse.

Mandatory Reporters - School nurses are required to report suspected child or dependent adult abuse to the department of human services.

Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility - Medicaid Qualified Entity (QE) for presumptive eligibility. The school nurse, in a Medicaid approved provider school, can become a QE to make the presumptive determination about a child's Medicaid eligibility based on the family's income self declaration statement for the child to receive immediate medical care.

Medication Administration and Management - School nurses delegate the task of medication administration to unlicensed personnel. The following resources assist the school nurse in this delegation.

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