Back to School and What it Means for School Nurses
Here’s an unsettling statistic. 25% of schools across the United States do NOT have a school nurse. While that may have proved fine and dandy up until now; with the coronavirus still raging across the country, and many schools slated to reopen shortly, that’s going to be rather problematic. It’s the school nurse to whom students and faculty are going to turn to with questions and concerns. A school minus a nurse during this pandemic, is going to end up a school minus direction. And here’s the thing. I love to come on here with solutions. I want to give you tips and tricks as well directives for how to go about certain aspects in the nursing industry; I rarely get on here and just, for lack of a better word, ‘rant.’ But here I am. School is starting and my school nurse friends are scratching their heads as they’re expected to take on a role they’ve never filled, on top of an already heavy work load.
On that note, before Covid-19 ever entered our vernacular, school nurses were quite the busy bunch. Whereas according to the CDC, schools should employ one nurse for every 750 students, only about 40% of schools meet the requirement. Some districts even go so far as to have multiple schools share a singe school nurse. And as mentioned above, 25% of schools don’t even have a school nurse.
So, what exactly is the day to day job of a school nurse supposing Covid-19 never came to be? Essentially, it’s health maintenance. Many students enter the school system with health conditions that need to be monitored around the clock, there are medications that need to be administered, injuries that occur while in school that need to be tended to, and on top of all that student interaction, nurses need to make sure that all the students’ immunizations are up to date etc. It’s a full-time job, in other words. Add Covid to the mix, and now school nurses who are already stretched thin, are suddenly responsible for screening students for Covid-19 symptoms, staying up to date on the latest developments and recommendations, making decisions whether a student should remain in school or should be sent home…
To top it all off, school nurses oftentimes work in tight quarters which was okay until now, but with social distancing all the rage… well, a cramped nurse’s office just won’t do. Plus, there are concerns. School nurses feel a sense of responsibility to the students and their parents. While on one hand it’s imperative that students return to school as the fallout from schools closing has been tremendous, they are also afraid that the schools aren’t doing enough to ensure that students are as safe as possible. Many school nurses are wondering if they should even stay on. It’s a tough call, and tough times.
Like I said, I like solutions. Answers. The latest and greatest on how to get through life and the nursing field in particular, with flying colors. But I have no answers here. The school nurses are struggling, as are the schools they work in, the government, and the country as a whole. In the meantime, I’ll be over here waiting not so patiently for 2020 to make its way out.