Data Sharing Guidance for School Nurses
January 23, 2020
As education clearly emerges as a social determinant of health, enhanced integration of schools and child health care will be important to improving academic and health outcomes. Nonetheless, challenges to data sharing exist in the K-12 setting, some real and some perceived. This guidance document sets forth requirements imposed by federal law regarding use and disclosure of student education record data and will share strategies for devising agreements that allow legal and efficient data sharing in compliance with federal law.
School nurses collect and maintain a vast amount of personal information related to students and their health. The ability to share these data with (and obtain information from) other health care providers and agencies is important for a number of reasons, including:
• enhancing continuity of care
• improving students’ health management at school
• preventing duplication of efforts across organizations
• conducting important health and surveillance research
• enriching collaboration among providers and partner organization
• determining best practices in student care.
Note that this guidance document is not intended to substitute for legal counsel. Parties should consult an attorney in developing, or at least reviewing, any data sharing agreement to ensure compliance with state and federal law. Also, most education and health care agencies have designated privacy officers who are knowledgeable about privacy laws and regulations, as well as relevant organizational policy and operations. These individuals should be engaged early and throughout the process of developing data sharing strategies and agreements.