This guide will help you navigate medical exams, CPR, fingerprinting and drug testing requirements for hiring teachers in Pennsylvania.
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Do teachers need to take medical tests prior to or after employment in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania Public School Code says that new teachers and other school employees need to have a pre-employment medical examination and there’s no exception to this rule.
In short, teachers should take the following tests before being hired:
Typically, this includes:
- Blood pressure
- Checking your ears, nose, lungs, throat and eyes
Tuberculin Skin Test (TST)
The tuberculin skin test should be administered by either the intracutaneous Mantoux test method with the two-step tuberculin skin test procedure or the percutaneous multiple puncture test method.
A chest x-ray may be used to rule out the possibility of pulmonary TB if your employee had a positive reaction to a TST or TB blood test and no symptoms of disease.
Are teachers required to be certified in CPR and AED?
In Pennsylvania, CPR, AED and First Aid training are not currently mandatory on a state-wide level for teachers and other school employees.
However, school districts within Pennsylvania have their own regulations about CPR training. So, check with your district to see if your new employees require CPR and/or AED training.
It is highly encouraged that at least one member of your school staff knows CPR and how to operate an AED correctly.
Coaches and school staff who teach or supervise extracurricular activities are especially encouraged to take CPR, AED and First Aid certification courses. This is because students who play sports and other physical activities are more likely to sustain physical injuries and suffer a sudden cardiac arrest.
Why mandatory CPR, AED and First Aid courses is a good policy
Remember, when you’re employed as a teacher or staff member at an educational facility, the health and lives of students are in your hands during the time that they’re in your presence.
Having your teachers and other school employees complete CPR, AED and/or First Aid courses will create a safe and trustworthy school environment. This level of professionalism will give students, staff and parents a peace of mind.
What’s the difference between CPR, AED and First Aid classes?
CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. CPR can help save a life during cardiac arrest, when the heart stops beating or it beats too ineffectively to circulate blood to the brain and other vital organs.
AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator. Typically, it’s simply called a defibrillator. It is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It’s a sophisticated, easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.
First Aid is the first and immediate medical assistance given to a person with either a minor or serious illness or injury. The concept of first aid is to provide care in order to preserve the patient’s life, to prevent the condition from worsening, or to promote recovery until professional medical services arrive. As an educator or school staff member, you can take basic and advanced first aid courses to satisfy Pennsylvania’s occupational requirements.
Does Pennsylvania require teachers to participate in fingerprinting and background checks?
These three background checks are required for teachers in Pennsylvania:
- Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance
- Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Records Check
- Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI)
Why fingerprinting and background checks are essential for schools
Besides the fact that they’re required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, fingerprinting and background checks will make sure your school is a safe environment for students and fellow staff.
Are teachers required to be drug tested in Pennsylvania?
Since 2013, Pennsylvania has made drug testing mandatory for teachers and other school employees.
If a drug test shows that a prospective teacher had recently used a controlled substance other than doctor-prescribed medication, they would be prohibited from being hired in the school district.
What you should know about Philadelphia’s laws for marijuana testing
A Philadelphia law prohibits pre-employment drug tests for marijuana as a condition of employment.
This law pertains to most employees, including teachers, however there are a few exceptions:
- Law enforcement agencies.
- Positions that provide the supervision or care of children, medical patients, those with disabilities, or other vulnerable adults.
- Jobs that require commercial driver’s licenses.
So what does that mean for you as a school administrator?
It means that you can test for marijuana usage–even for medical purposes–for the following school employees:
- Police officers working security in your schools.
- School medical staff such as nurses.
- School bus drivers.
The part that is up for interpretation is the part of the Philadelphia ordinance that says any position requiring the “supervision or care of children.”
Are teachers technically supervising and “caring” for children? The law in Philadelphia doesn’t make it clear.
To be sure, your school district or school board might want to avoid testing teachers for marijuana as a condition of their employment.
Otherwise, your school could get fined for $150 to $300. Repeat offenders are subject to an additional fine of up to $300 per violation, or imprisonment for up to 90 days.
Why drug testing school employees is important
It is crucial to maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of drugs among school staff. One way to ensure that teachers and administrators maintain a drug-free lifestyle is through mandatory drug testing at work.
Smart, strong and sober – cultivate a culture of responsible leaders
This holds teachers accountable for their actions, making them less likely to use drugs if they know they could be caught and face consequences for their actions.
Children tend to follow the footsteps of their adult role models, often mimicking their behaviors and choices into adulthood. When teachers engage in drug abuse, not only do you stand to lose an employee but also negatively impact student behavior.
Students might falsely believe that drug use isn’t so bad if they suspect that their teacher engages in this type of behavior; as a result, students might be more willing to try drugs themselves.
Create a safe environment
Additionally, a teacher who is using drugs cannot be trusted with the ability or rationale to keep students safe. By implementing mandatory drug testing at work, you are helping to keep students safe and out of potentially dangerous situations.
Protect your school from legal action by disgruntled teachers
Implementing drug tests at your school will also give administrators legal and medical proof that backs up the termination of a school employee. This gives authorities the justification to take action against the teacher and reduces the chances that the teacher could argue against them in court.
Other reasons to include drug testing as part of your hiring policy
- Decreased teacher absenteeism
- Reduce risks of accidents
- Reduce turnover rates
- Decrease risks of theft by staff
- Gives administration the ability to identify and refer drug-dependent employees to rehabilitation programs
Your next steps
Now that you know what the pre-employment medical exam requirements are in Pennsylvania, the next step is to help your prospective teachers and school staff to schedule appointments for tests.
WellnessMart specializes in pre-employment testing for education. With over 50 locations to serve you, Wellnessmart allows employers to order tests, receive and store results, and get single consolidated billing – all at wellnessmart.com. It’s quick, friendly, accurate testing for schools and companies, and requires no out of pocket payments for your applicants.