Bill requiring physicals for all students advances

North Carolina law currently requires only kindergarteners to get physicals in order to enroll in public schools — but a bill moving through the General Assembly could soon require health assessments for all newly enrolled students in grades K-12, and failure to do so could mean some kids miss out on classroom instruction.

Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston) introduced the bill, HB 13, to Senators in a health committee Tuesday, explaining that the most common feedback he received from constituents about requiring physicals for all students was “you mean we’re not already doing that?”

There’s a presumption that other states also require their students to get physicals when they enter kindergarten, said Torbett, perhaps serving as a rationale for why the state doesn’t currently require health assessments from new students entering higher grades.

If students don’t get physicals within sixty days of the first day of school, the proposed law would bar students from going to school until fulfilling the proposed requirement. Language in the original proposal left the door open for those absences to count as suspensions on a student’s record, but House lawmakers amended the bill to avoid that scenario, including language that would allow students to make up coursework and tests during their time away from the classroom.

Senator Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford) questioned what processes would be put into place to work with parents who may have trouble understanding the proposed law.

“In some cases, parents are illiterate,” said Sen. Robinson. “What is in place in the school system to get out to that parent to make sure…that parent can read it and understand and then follow up?”

Legislative staff said there are currently a number of opportunities for follow-up with parents of kindergarteners who fail to comply with the proposed law, but did not identify ways in which the state works with those who are illiterate or non-English speaking.

Approved by the Senate Health committee, the bill will next be considered by members of the  Senate Education/Higher Education committee.



  1. Pertains!

    July 21, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    The “senators” are out of their minds. Who is supposed to audit the files looking for a child’s physical? This lands squarely on the teachers shoulders.

    If this is enacted the physical should be required within 30 days of enrollment otherwise many hours of phone calls AND DOLLARS in postage will be wasted trying to help the child become eligible to attend school.

    Parents are required already to provide proof of immunization within 30 days of enrollment.

    The reference to non-English speaking parents makes it appear we are just setting up one more obstacle for families considering moving to NC.

    The parents of a child born in Florida probably does not keep a copy of the kindergarten physical so if they move to NC when the child is in high school that child will be required to get a physical. Hopefully they do not have many children.

  2. Laurie

    July 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Of the school districts I have resided in with my children that required yearly physical, the counties provided a form of free access for physicals to occur including getting needed immunizations.

    Given State’s GL stance on expansion of medicaid, and general malaise on health care insurance plans that offer wellness care including physicals, they should just pull the bill now. They have no way to provide that all eligible students will be able to meet this qualification in order to receive their guaranteed public education.

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