In a typical day before COVID, your demands as a School Nurse included providing and coordinating care for students with medical challenges, collaborating with public health officials to prevent communicable disease and chronic health conditions, and leading preventive health and quality improvement efforts in schools. You have been responsible for the health and safety of 200 to 20,000 and more students depending on ratios and workloads, which vary widely across the U.S. and internationally. And you have been practicing legally and ethically, following laws and regulations related to confidentiality and disabilities while reporting to 3 systems: health care, public health, and education.
The pandemic has thrown a giant ball into this mix of balls you’ve been juggling. Since March, you’ve been asked to provide health services virtually, develop training and teach the school community about ways to reduce risk of COVID transmission, and conduct contact tracing with local boards of health. Now, the latest for some of you. . .implement antigen testing for students and staff who develop COVID-like symptoms while in the school building!
In your school district, is there a full-time School Nurse in every school juggling the giant COVID ball? Do all students have access to a full-time School Nurse who can implement measures to reduce COVID transmission? We invite you to share your successes and challenges with us via email. In some school districts, School Nurses participate and lead decisions about school health services, and can advocate for more hands on deck during this public health emergency. Too many districts, however, do not have a School Nurse in every building. How effective can managing a pandemic in the school setting be without the expertise and skill of a School Nurse?
School Nurses, in this blog, we plan to confirm your experiences and provide support as we can. By listening to you and creating learning experiences for you, we hope to make it easier to support your successful juggling, especially when you’re juggling a giant ball called COVID. We welcome your ideas; share your thoughts here!
How many school health balls can you juggle successfully? It all depends on whether you’re leading the school health show and how many hands you have!
Jenny Gormley, DNP, MSN, BA, RN, NCSN with Kathy Hassey, DNP, MEd, BSN, BA, RN