Should my child's teacher know about his vax status? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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There have been a few break through cases of chicken pox at my ds's elementary school so yesterday his teacher told me "I know he isn't vax'd so I wanted to let you know." She was very respectful about it but did ask why and what my religion was.

I live in MA where the only allowed exemption is for religious reasons and I feel violated that info about my son's vax status and therefore, religion, left the nurse's office.

I imagine they think they are being saef, but I am always on the lookout for chicken pox while the other 3 cases at the school where break-through and no other parents have been informed - it seems as though the vax's kids are more in danger here, if they get a case and a parent isn't thinking it could be pox, they could go visit a new baby or see a friend at the hospital. I know what to look for.

Anyway - just looking for thoughts - should my child's teacher know about his vax-status or is it a violation of privacy?
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#2 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 11:25 AM
 
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No. Simply put, no. And quiet frankly, I would be having a very long chat with the nurse about why she violated HIPPA laws and ask her if she would like a law suit on her hands. (No? Then maybe you shouldn't be talking about my child's medical records to other people. Who is on what medication? Oh, can't tell me that can you? That's what I thought. I'll be in contact with my lawyer.)

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#3 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 11:27 AM
 
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#4 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 11:44 AM
 
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Personally, I wouldn't get too worked up about it but the asking your religion thing was completely inappropriate and I would have told her so.

Every baptized Christian is, or should be, someone with an actual (disturbing) experience, ... a close encounter, with God; someone who, as a result, becomes a disturbing presence to others. - Fr. Anthony J. Gittins, A Presence That Disturbs
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#5 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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Your state should have regulations about what school personnel can look in the health file. In the state I worked in, all student files were required to be in locking file cabinets which had to be posted with a list of personnel who were allowed in the files. This could vary by state, but IME, most school personnel who work directly with a child are allowed access to the entire school file including the health file. (This is in accordance with HIPPA). The child's primary teacher is usually the one who keeps up with all of the state mandated documentation (e.g., health screening forms, academic screening forms, etc). I would check your state's regulations before I complained. I think this is one of those issues that could draw a lot of negative attention to you and your child. I think that the teacher's religion comment was out of line, but maybe she really wanted to know what organized religion prohibited vaccination and didn't realize that you are allowed to have personal religious beliefs. I would be careful about what you say about religion just to make sure you don't loose the exemption.
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#6 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 04:31 PM
 
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Your state should have regulations about what school personnel can look in the health file. In the state I worked in, all student files were required to be in locking file cabinets which had to be posted with a list of personnel who were allowed in the files. This could vary by state, but IME, most school personnel who work directly with a child are allowed access to the entire school file including the health file. (This is in accordance with HIPPA). The child's primary teacher is usually the one who keeps up with all of the state mandated documentation (e.g., health screening forms, academic screening forms, etc). I would check your state's regulations before I complained. I think this is one of those issues that could draw a lot of negative attention to you and your child. I think that the teacher's religion comment was out of line, but maybe she really wanted to know what organized religion prohibited vaccination and didn't realize that you are allowed to have personal religious beliefs. I would be careful about what you say about religion just to make sure you don't loose the exemption.

I agree here that it could be genuine curiosity on the teacher's part. Maybe take the opportunity to educate her if she brings it up again...you don't have to specifically discuss your religion. But you could say that in addition to your religious objections, you have other objections as well, such as X, Y, and Z...

Or might this cause problems of any sort with the status of her religious exemption? Anyone know?

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#7 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 05:32 PM
 
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But you could say that in addition to your religious objections, you have other objections as well, such as X, Y, and Z...

Or might this cause problems of any sort with the status of her religious exemption? Anyone know?
Bringing up "reasons" for a religious objection can cause you to loose your exemption. Most the most common objections are legally philosophical. Objecting to a specific vaccine for STDs or specific ingredients such as animal cells or aborted fetal tissue cell lines are all philosophical reasons. You have to be very careful when explaining why your religion prohibits the process of vaccination. IMO, it's better not to explain. You could come up with a spiritual reason for not vaccinating like "the body is whole and shouldn't be intentionally punctured except for life-saving measures," but that doesn't sound resealable to most people, so you aren't going to really gain respect for your position.
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#8 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I believe his teacher was honestly just curious and in a friendly way. I was very vague and said we can't inject anything into the body. They know I had an attempted HBAC with DS2 and know that I bf'd both my boys to about 2.5 - I'm in a very liberal and mixed community and I can't imagine anything I said or would say getting in the way of the exemption. I said something about being highly devotional.

I just wasn't sure about the lagality of it all and the posts have helped a lot. I still don't know why they warned me and haven't told other parents, especailly those carrying their infants in and out of school every day. They might want to know what that rash is when it pops!

And it's good to know - I should have had a better prepared shpeel but never guessed they even knew.
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#9 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 07:19 PM
 
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IME the teacher would know about details such as this, as it would be in the records, which she would access regularly. I don't see that as any big deal.

I do think though that asking you about your reasons is out of line. In future, I'd just have a response ready such as "My religion is a private issue, which I prefer not to discuss." Smile, and walk away.
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#10 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 08:26 PM
 
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I am a teacher, and I have access to the health records, because they are in with all the rest of the child's records. I don't ever discuss them with anyone who is not allowed to know, as that would be in violation of HIPPA, and I would never ask a parent about why they did or didn't vax or about their religion.

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#11 of 17 Old 04-02-2009, 08:50 PM
 
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It's in no way a violation of HIPAA (said as someone who works with HIPAA every. single. day.) Her question was inappropriate, sure, but the fact that she knows is not.

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#12 of 17 Old 04-03-2009, 09:48 AM
 
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School records fall under FERPA guidelines.

Here's a thread ... the link in the thread no longer works, so I provided the one above.

Quote:
Educational records that are subject to FERPA are expressly exempted from HIPAA’s coverage.

Every baptized Christian is, or should be, someone with an actual (disturbing) experience, ... a close encounter, with God; someone who, as a result, becomes a disturbing presence to others. - Fr. Anthony J. Gittins, A Presence That Disturbs
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#13 of 17 Old 04-06-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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I'm surprised they haven't said anything. In the local schools here the school has to send a letter home with the kids if someone gets certain illnesses. I'm not sure though whether it is school wide or class wide.
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#14 of 17 Old 04-08-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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I'm surprised they haven't said anything. In the local schools here the school has to send a letter home with the kids if someone gets certain illnesses. I'm not sure though whether it is school wide or class wide.
ours too. We get letters/emails from the principal based on certain diseases--stuff like TB, chicken pox, measles, influenza, and of course lice ...
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#15 of 17 Old 04-18-2009, 12:47 AM
 
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I'm curious as to why the teacher asking what your religion was is considered such an offensive thing by some of you.

I see my children's teachers as an extension of our caregiving circle, and have gone out of my way to get to know them and draw them into my children's lives outside of school. I feel that anyone who spends THAT much time with, and holds that much influence over my child's development should be someone that is (the only phrase I can think of is "in our pocket", but that's not the right one - I'm hoping that conveys a sense of closeness and not political intrigue, lol)...

I live in TX and we have philosophical exemptions for our kids, but I've had lengthy conversations about religion and childrearing beliefs with nearly all of my kids teachers. If the teacher in question was genuinely curious and asking to be friendly or to get to know her student's family better, I don't see that as a bad thing unless it was a front to wheedle more information out of the mama to hang her with.

If you don't mind, will those of you who said as much elaborate on the teacher asking being such an offensive thing to you? Thanks!

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#16 of 17 Old 04-18-2009, 08:35 PM
 
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If my kids' teachers asked me about my religion OUTSIDE the context of a vaccine exemption (or anything school related, for that matter), I'd have no issue discussing the topic with them. In regard to exemption, however, my religion is none of their business - period.

Every baptized Christian is, or should be, someone with an actual (disturbing) experience, ... a close encounter, with God; someone who, as a result, becomes a disturbing presence to others. - Fr. Anthony J. Gittins, A Presence That Disturbs
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#17 of 17 Old 04-19-2009, 03:50 AM
 
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If you don't mind, will those of you who said as much elaborate on the teacher asking being such an offensive thing to you? Thanks!
Some states are very aggressive about trying to prove that a parent's religious objection to vaccination is not sincere, and if the state decides that, they'll deny your exemption, and then your kid is outta school or you need to get them up-to-date. I'd hope/assume that the teacher was asking from genuine personal curiosity and wanting to learn more about the world in general, and the child's parents in particular, but it's a really touchy area given that sometimes parents have to really struggle to get their religious exemptions. The definition of a valid religious reason for an exemption is quite narrow, and parents often need to be careful when expressing their views.
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