Begin Main Content Area

Physical Examinations

For Students

The Pennsylvania Public School Code Section 1402. Health Services (e) requires that students upon original entry, sixth grade and 11th grade be given a "comprehensive appraisal" of their health. The physical is to be completed within 4 months prior to the start of the school year. In addition, Section 1402(c) requires the completion of medical questionnaires which are to become part of the student's health record.

This requirement may be completed by the student's primary care provider (MD, DO, CRNP, PA) or by the school provider.

Historically, the Department of Health provided separate forms for students being evaluated by their private provider and those evaluated by the school provider. However, the medical standards for a physical are the same regardless of the provider completing it. In 2012, the Department published a physical examination form which is to be used for both private and school physical examinations. This form is more comprehensive than previous forms because it includes an extensive medical history.

Schools may accept exams on the private physician's own form as long as it comparable to the DOH approved form.

In April of 2000, the Secretary of Health sent a letter to schools encouraging them to apply for a modification to the physical examination requirement. This modification would extend the time frame for accepting physical examinations from 4 months prior to the start of the school year to 1 year prior to the start of the school year. (According to the Department of Education, the school year begins on July 1st.)

Modification Requests

Schools may also request a modification to change the grades in which physicals are completed. There must still be a minimum of 3 physicals throughout a student's school career. (For example, a school may request to complete physicals on original entry, in 6th grade and in 9th grade. This would be at each transition phase from elementary to middle school to high school).

To request an approved modification for physical examinations: The school entity must send a letter detailing the specific modification they are requesting to the Division of School Health (1) on school letterhead, (2) signed by the Superintendent/CEO, and (3) confirming that the requested change has been incorporated into the school entity's health policy/procedures with approval by the school board. The letter must be sent to: Director, Division of School Health, 30 Kline Plaza., Harrisburg, PA 17104. Upon receipt of the request, the Division of School Health and the Secretary of Health will either deny or approve the request and inform the school entity of the decision in a hard copy letter sent to the Superintendent/CEO.

For Staff

The Pennsylvania Public School Code Section 1418. Medical Examinations of Teachers and Other Persons requires that "teachers, janitors, cooks and other cafeteria help and all others employed at schools have a pre-employment medical examination. The law does not allow modification of this section.