Frequently Asked Questions: Health Requirements for Enrollment
As COVID-19 caused us to close our school buildings at the end of the third quarter this school year, we have been working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and the Alexandria Health Department, among others, to develop plans to safely reopen our schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
When is the first day of school?
Currently, the first day for all schools on the traditional calendar for next school year is scheduled to be September 8, 2020, the Tuesday after the Labor Day Weekend. For Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School students, the first day will be August 6, 2020. However, both these dates may change based on the guidance we get from the Alexandria Health Department and Virginia Department of Education. We will keep you posted throughout the summer regarding any changes and will be sharing our draft reopening plans to get your feedback very soon.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the medical requirements for school enrollment?
In order to enroll in a public school system in Virginia, state law requires the parent or guardian of a child to provide, among other information, a school entrance health form and a copy of up-to-date age-appropriate immunizations. These requirements have not changed.
What medical documents do I need to enroll my student at ACPS schools?
All states, including Virginia, require children to be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases as a condition for school attendance. Virginia also requires new students to provide a negative Tuberculosis evaluation before enrolling. The medical documents each student needs to share are:
- Documentation of a physical examination from a health care provider for elementary aged students. The physical exam must have occurred within 12 months from the first day of school.
- Up-to-date age-appropriate immunization record listing the month, date and year of vaccinations.
What happens if I don’t have health records that list the month, date, and year of the immunizations?
Any students for whom dates cannot be provided will be referred to the local health department or a private healthcare provider to update their records before entering school.
What medical tests and immunizations are required?
Commonwealth of Virginia and ACPS requires that all new students have a negative Tuberculosis (TB) evaluation before enrolling in our schools. In addition, documentation of nine routine childhood immunizations for preventable communicable diseases should be provided. A list of the required tests and immunizations can be found in the enrollment section of the ACPS website.
Are there any exemptions to having to have immunizations?
The vaccinations are required as a safety measure for our children and our larger community. However, there are exemptions for families with certain religious beliefs and students with specific existing medical conditions. You can learn more about these exemptions on the ACPS website under the enrollment tab.
My child was in an ACPS PreK program last year and will enter kindergarten this fall. Do we still have to do this or can you just use last year’s records?
Students currently participating in an ACPS PreK program should provide proof of immunizations and a NEW physical examination prior to entering kindergarten, even if these documents were provided prior to entrance into pre-kindergarten.
Are students who already attend ACPS schools in any grade required to provide health records?
All returning students need to show they are up-to-date with grade-level age-appropriate immunizations. And just as a reminder, 7th-grade students need a Tdap shot. The full list of age-appropriate vaccinations is on our webpage.
What do I do if my child’s pediatrician is not accepting well-child visits?
ACPS understands that some doctors’ offices are currently not fulfilling routine physical appointments. If this is the case for you, there are alternative providers who can help, including
- Neighborhood Health,
- The Alexandria Health Department,
- The Teen Wellness Center at T.C. Williams King Street, and
- The Partnership for Healthier Communities.
All offer affordable services on a sliding fee scale. You are also encouraged to contact your school nurse if you have additional questions.
What happens if I don’t have medical insurance?
The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) is now open for immunizations by appointment, please call 703-746-4888 to set one up. Families should bring immunization records and identification to the appointment. AHD is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for infection control, and will be requesting persons 10 years of age and older to wear masks.
My child had a doctor’s appointment this winter, can I use those records to enroll or do I need a new appointment?
If the physical was completed within 12 months of the first day of school (currently September 8), then it is acceptable.
Where can I find the required forms?
The forms are on the ACPS website. Please download and print out the forms to take to your medical provider for completion. Alternatively, you may also submit documentation of a physical examination and immunizations from a medical provider provided they are on letterhead from the health care facility. Finally, you may ask your school registrar to mail the forms to you.
How do I submit the paperwork when school buildings are closed?
ACPS is working to establish a portal that will allow you to upload these documents so they go directly to your school. When this is set up we will be in touch with you about how to access this option.
Can my student be enrolled while they get the necessary immunizations?
A student may be enrolled for a period of 90 school days contingent upon:
- at least one dose of each of the required vaccines has been received, and
- the parent/guardian has a plan for completing the immunization requirements within the ensuing 90 school days.
The only exception to this is for students who have not received a second dose of measles (rubeola) vaccine - the state requires the second dose must be administered prior to starting kindergarten.
We are a military family and received orders forcing us to move. Can we have an exception?
The children of military families have 30 days from the date of enrollment to obtain any required immunization(s). For a series of immunizations, the first ones must be obtained within 30 days.
What if school remains 100 percent virtual due to COVID-19 this fall? If my student is learning at home do we still have to comply with immunization requirements?
The Commonwealth of Virginia has not changed the law regarding enrollment and the required medical records. Since students will still be enrolling in an ACPS school regardless of where learning happens this fall, they are required to provide the necessary documentation.
This spring, ACPS has been enrolling students per VDOE requirements. We have been working with families to help them complete the required documentation as soon as possible, if they are not able to complete the process online.
We wanted to get this information out to you so you have some time to schedule appointments and get the necessary paperwork in order. We are already looking forward to the fall and planning hard for every eventuality. We will keep you informed as we get new information. And please be assured that we will keep your health and safety as our top priority as we move into the new school year.