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Back to School 2020-2021??

“This would be a great job…if there were no kids or their parents.” – Nurse Kevin

Well, that used to be a joke I would say. But, I have to be honest, now I am saying, “This would be a great job…if there WERE kids and parents.” Our first day of school is today…for us contracted staff. Children were supposed to start back next week…but the school year is postponed a week past that, and even so, they will start online for two weeks after that (but I think longer). I am sure most everyone of you has a similar story. I know some of you have kids in your school houses right now…we’ll be watching you and your schools to see how things go.

By the Way

How was your summer? Did you spend too much time on Facebook? Watching the news? Listening to your sister’s husband’s friend’s uncle tell you all about COVID? How many “mask debates” did you engage in? Phooey…we ain’t gonna start the school year off with a COVID article…well…not really. I know you have had your fill with COVID and have conducted your own COVID research. You know what you know based on what you’ve heard, read, or even experienced first-hand. And we will likely let the last three articles of last school year be the conclusion of Go See the Nurse’s COVID-19-focused discussions until we…as a nation…as a WORLD…understand the virus more. Conversations seem to be consumed with this topic, and folks are expressing their dichotomous narratives with extremes on both sides.

My Mother-in-Law Had a Heart Attack This Summer

My mother-in-law called us on the way to the emergency room in late April. The chest pain she was “waiting to see” about had not improved over the past two to three days, and the persistent pain was becoming increasingly intense. My mother-in-law has never waited to seek medical care. She’s a retired nurse who knows the symptoms and knows when to seek medical care. Delaying on getting medical evaluation was not something she makes a habit of (trust me on this one). There was nothing we could do; the hospitals were not letting visitors into the depths of their establishments. Three days later, my wife went to pick up her mother to bring her back home.

She asked her, “Momma, why did you wait so long to go into the emergency room?”

“Well, people are dying of that virus; I didn’t want to catch it.” She had been talking to her peers who, though they didn’t advise her to keep waiting on her chest pain, also shared with her their fears of going to the hospital. This may have inadvertently (along with the barrage of news reports—she keeps the news playing all the live-long day) created a fear of the hospital as sanitariums “dripping” with COVID-19.

The question remains: If given a choice, would you choose a myocardial infarction, or would you choose COVID-19 infection? She chose to wait-and-see while she endured symptoms of MI instead of the perception of increasing the possibility of contracting COVID-19…she inadvertently chose a heart attack over a viral infection.

Trust me…I will get to a point in this article…but there are a few rabbit trails I will lead you down.

A Kid Walks in with COVID-19

“What about advice on what safety measures to take this next school year when the students return?” You ask. And, that’s a great question that I am sure your district has implemented many new policies and procedures for (and many districts didn’t ask for input from their medical professionals [you awesome school nurses]). Like me, you will follow those implemented policies and procedures within the “okay-ed-ness” of your treasured nursing license. There are things we nurses can do, and there are things we cannot do…like diagnose.

In the not-so-old old days, when a child walked in to our office with:

Fever
Cough
Sore throat
Runny / stuffy nose
Muscle / body aches
Headaches
Fatigue
Vomiting / diarrhea

….we school nurses would say, “They are presenting with flu-like symptoms.” But, what do we say now when a child walks in with:

Fever
Cough
Sore throat
Runny / stuffy nose
Muscle / body aches
Headache
Fatigue
Diarrhea

A Kid Walks in WITHOUT COVID-19

After last year’s school year kicked off, and the world had not yet heard of COVID-19, the concern was the “bad flu season.” And the 2018-2019 flu season was a doozie (they are still counting the 2019-2020 numbers)! It’s estimated that 61,000 people died in the U.S. from the flu during that season. They guess that 34,157 died from last year’s flu season (though I am not sure why they are using that specific