From the beginning of the school year, students over 12 can be vaccinated against Covid-19 at school. This is just a possibility, although the incentive to get caught is strong. So far, only diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTP) vaccination is compulsory for school entry.
Some parents are surprised: on behalf of which national education is involved in children’s health? Frankly, the concern is old. Already, in 1762, Father Jacquin felt it was necessary to refresh the air in the classrooms. Since 1864, physicians have become central players in school prevention. But it was not until 1945 that the first school hygiene services were created.
Since then, the Health Code and the National Education Code have required children to take “Medical examination and screening” in their sixth and twelfth years. A decree published on 20 August reduced this limit to “Children between 3 and 4 years old” – logical, since from the beginning of the 2019 school year, education is compulsory from the age of 3 – while maintaining medical examinations upon entry into CP and 6.
Not enough doctors
Children therefore have to undergo three medical visits, instead of two. We may be surprised. In 2020, the Court of Auditors estimated that less than one in five children actually benefited from a medical examination from the age of 6, due in particular to a low rate of supervision: a doctor of one school for 12,572 children. In this new school year, the National Union of Nursing Consultants is still calling for “Emergency and recovery plan for compulsory health examinations neglected for two years”.
However, it is not the nurses and school doctors who undergo the medical examination at the age of 3 years, but the departmental maternal and child protection service (PMI). The purpose of this first visit is to assess the relationship between the child’s weight and height, his physical and psycho-emotional development and his oral language. It also aims to identify possible sensory disturbances and to verify vaccinations.
The sixth year medical examination, performed by a school doctor, tends to examine the child’s growth, to report his body mass index on his health record, to screen for possible hearing and visual, psychomotor or communication problems; to examine her teeth and to discover possible contraindications to the practice of physical activity and sport.
Finally, the twelve-year-old visit is made by a school nurse. In addition to the usual physical exams, it also aims to discuss with the student his living conditions to reveal any signs of psychological distress, as well as his pubertal development and questions related to sexuality.