Perry Thurston seeks to require student ‘well-care’ exams

Female medicine doctor hands crossed on her chest
The school entry health exam must be completed and signed by a health care provider.

A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would require public and private school students ages 12 to 18 to undergo a yearly “well-care” examination.

Democratic State Sen. Perry Thurston Jr., who represents parts of Broward County, filed Senate Bill 208 on Aug. 30.

“The district school board or the governing authority, as appropriate, shall refuse admittance to any child otherwise entitled to admittance to a Florida public or private school who is not in compliance with this section,” the bill reads.

In September, the bill was referred to three Senate committees: The Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, the Appropriations Committee and the Rules Committee.

The examination under the terms of the proposed law includes “a physical, developmental, behavioral, and psychosocial screening and assessment, as recommended in the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

The policy would require “a student to submit proof of the examination within 30 school days under certain conditions.” Children experiencing homelessness would be given a “temporary exemption” for 30 school days.

Also, a child would be exempt from the examination with a parent’s written request stating objections on religious grounds, which are protected under state law.

Parents of the students would be required to pay the cost of the examinations.

Under the current state law, pre-K through 12th-grade students making their entry into a Florida school must present a record of a health examination completed within one year before enrollment, according to the Florida Health Department’s website. The school entry health exam must be completed and signed by a health care provider licensed to perform physical exams in the U.S.

For students transferring to a Florida school, the Health Department website states a comparable form from another state would also be acceptable.

If SB 208 passes, the law would take effect on July 1, 2020. Thurston’s legislation does not have a companion bill in the House.

The Legislative Session is set to start Jan. 14.

Mark Bergin

Mark Bergin is a freelance journalist, who previously worked as an online writer for 10News WTSP in St. Petersburg. Bergin has covered the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium negotiations, the 2018 midterm elections, Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay’s transportation issues and city/county government. He also covers the NFL for the Bleav Podcast Network and for You can follow his work on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @mdbergin. Reach him by email at [email protected].


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