As more kids head back to school the role of the school nurse becomes even more critical. Already, we're hearing about some cases of COVID-19 in the schools and the nurses there are certainly on the front lines.
According to a survey from the National Association of School Nurses, 90% of school nurses spent the last year partnering with local and state health departments, while 75% worked with school leaders to make decisions about reopening plans, and 76% provided in-person training and education on COVID-19.
This is on top of all of their normal job activity, caring for sick children and preventing illness.
Kathleen Neelon, a registered nurse and nurse coordinator for the Wallingford School District, who is also the past president of the Association of School Nurses, of Connecticut sat down with NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran to talk about it all.
Dan: "So Kathy, school nurses are really on the front line here with a lot of responsibility. Has it been going for you and your colleagues leading up to this school year?"
Kathy: "We have a lot of things in place from last year. But there have been some changes to our guidance right now. If a student is positive them or following their guidance for quarantining, it does make a huge difference. If students are vaccinated, the ones that can be vaccinated right now it makes a huge difference in whether you're quarantined or not. There is a little bit different in the classroom. You don't need to quarantine students if they're greater than three feet from one another in the classroom and fully mast. So masking again is important this year."
Dan: "So you know that every district has different needs when it comes to school nurse staffing. So what is it that you're hearing from your fellow nurses, but what is needed across the state right now?"
Kathy: "And this is true for nurses and for teachers and staff in schools. When you're quarantined, you're depleting resources in our school environment. So it's really important that we are able to cover school health offices and teaching staff when they're out and finding school subs. Nursing subs is very, it's difficult for districts."
Dan: "Lastly, what is it that families can do right now to help school nurses better do their job?"
Kathy: "They can get their students vaccinated. That would be the ones that can that's extremely helpful. The second thing is to understand the importance of wearing masks people's angst about that. Not to really take it out on the school staff because we're just doing what we're required to do. Another big thing is right now any illness at all, can be COVID. So if their children are sick, it's extremely important to keep them home when sick. Talk to their provider, if it's they don't think it's COVID get a note from their doctor stating it's not COVID and they can come to school, or they need to be tested and provide us with a negative test."