The Essential Back to School Checklist

August is a great time to get your kids up to date with their physicals and vaccinations so that they may have a healthy school year.

The following is a “health checklist” of what you need to do to make sure that your children are healthy and ready to learn by the start of the school year. (Note: While the following health requirements are for all kids enrolled in Chicago Public Schools, some might be for specific ages. Please check with your school and medical provider to determine age-specific vaccinations and exams. Be sure to also find out if any additional immunizations and health exams are required for your children, especially if your children have allergies or specific illnesses such as diabetes.)

Required vaccinations and exams

  • Physical Examination including a lead screening through age 6
  • Sports examination if your children will be playing certain sports such as football or basketball
  • Vision examination
  • Dental examination
  • Vaccinations, including:
    • Diphtheria
    • Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
    • Tetanus (DTaP & dap)
    • Measles, Mumps and Rubella
    • Hepatitis B
    • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
    • Haemophilus Influenzae, Type B (HIB)
    • Pneumococcal Disease (PCV)
    • Meningitis (MCV4)

Remember: Your school will require proof of required exams and vaccinations, so be sure to get copies from your doctor. It’s smart to get two copies of each. One set should go to the school nurse, and the other set you can keep at home.

Additional tips for a healthy start to the school year

Required vaccinations and exams are just part of the mix to ensure your children have a healthy school year. Here are some additional things you can do to keep your children physically and mentally well throughout the school year.

  • Kids mimic your attitude. Make returning to school a positive thing, not something to dread or fear. The summer fun can still continue on the weekends in the fall, with bike rides, short family excursions and more.
  • Head outdoors. Whether it’s a walk along the lakefront, enjoying the view at Promontory Point or a run around Humboldt Park, studies find that walking outdoors yields measureable mental benefits for both adults and children. 
  • Introduce yourself to your children's teachers and school nurses. Let them know if your children have allergies, including food allergies, or specific illnesses that require medication during the school day. Write down all allergies and medication dosage requirements and leave a copy with the school nurse.
  • If you work full-time, you may want to keep hours light the first week of school in case you have to go to the school for any reason. After that, set up a network of friends, family and neighbors who could help out if a school emergency arises.
  • Keep an "important papers" file with vaccination and medical records, etc., so you can access them quickly if your school needs them. Tip: You can get an immunization tracking card from your children's doctor or from your state health department. Or, you can download the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Immunizations Tracker to record your children's vaccinations, developmental milestones, and growth from birth through 6 years old.

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Updated January 4, 2023