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COVID-19 Will Change School Nursing – Article 2 of 2

The other day I did a poll on the Go See The Nurse Facebook Page. I asked the question, “What are you doing while the kids are “home schooling?” Two choices were presented as pictures: a school house and a private home. I was both shocked and…well…not shocked at the same time. 94% of those school nurses who responded were at home. Here we are, in a medical crisis and most all the school nurses are at home. How is it that the district’s medical staff is not needed during a pandemic? Simple: there ain’t no children at the school houses to take care of (and most of the teachers are home too).

Now, this is NOT a finger-pointing session about how school nurses need to do their parts and help out and all that rigamarole. No siree Bob! That’s up to the individual nurse and the allowances their districts make for them. We have nurses in our Idaho hospitals who are being cross-trained for when the “doo-doo hits the oscillator” (IF the doo-doo ever comes) and they still don’t have much more work than they do on any other given day (though this is not the normal across the nation (or the world)). Many of the clinics are working in shifts. One group of doctors and nurses show up one week and then sit at home “incubating” while the other half of the staff pull the workload the next week.

OKAY! Nurse Kevin, that’s gross! We’re Nurses; We Can Handle It!

Right now, your district’s been running all over hell’s half acre worrying about how they’re gonna teach these children at home. Directing the school nurses isn’t a priority. With no kids in the schools, the school nurse is left up to her own resources (though most of us are staying pretty busy…I’m still showing up to the school house each day). This paradigm of being in the middle of a pandemic and sending the children AND the nurses home to quarantine will be revisited after all this is said and done. For us contracted folks, we’ll likely continue to have our jobs through the end of our contracts. For the hourly and non-contracted school nurses, who knows? The one thing I do know is things are likely to change in the near future…ESPECIALLY if the stay-at-home orders continue through the summer and into next August; there are only about 4 months until we are supposed to go “back” to school for the 2020-2021 school year. Do we all feel confident that COVID-19 will “go away” in the next 120 days?

We all have our theories about this virus. The American conversation…the world conversation…is consumed with COVID-19 opinions, blame, conspiracy theories and just a little bit of truth “peppered in” here and there. This is all too new to actually “know” anything (my opinion). We school nurse are definitely talking a lot about this cootie…it IS our conversation.

For the most part, we are all making opinions based on the drama presented to us by the news media (okay…a bit more of my commentary). But has anyone stopped to think about how school nursing will look after we get through this? When we get back to normal…whatever the “new normal” ends up looking like…what will be some of the decisions made about the school nurses? 

I do know one thing…along with hand-washing, hygiene and puberty classes, we school nurses will be teaching the children and the staff how to appropriately and effectively don a mask.