School nurses are on the front lines, but there aren’t enough of them

School nurses are on the front lines, but there aren’t enough of them

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - School nurses never have a dull moment. In the age of COVID, their job has never been more important. As many teachers get ready for in-person learning, school nurses will have a critical role to play as schools grapple with responding to coronavirus.

Englehard Elementary school nurse Nicole Lasley is passionate about her job and her students.

“Oh I love it, I love it,” Lasley said. “I never realized the difference a school nurse can make just being in the setting.”

Lasley is ready to get back into school, she misses her students.

“Just one interaction with that student who wraps their hands and legs around you and says good morning it change your whole day,” Lasley said.

When school is in session, Lasley says is busy. Other school nurses like her are stretched thin too. According to NBC News, the National Association of School Nurses says most school nurses oversee 920 to 1,200 students and 25% of the nation’s schools don’t even have a nurse. Not every JCPS school does but, the district says it is a goal. School nurses will be critical when school resumes to in-person learning.

“Especially during a pandemic, we need someone whose background in education and training is in health and health-related things,” Eva Stone, manager of JCPS Health Services said. “We’ll have those nurses assessing any fevers, headaches, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, But realize anytime we have school, those are things kids have on a regular basis. We’ve got 155 schools. last year we had 77 nurses in those schools but several of those nurses about ten of them are assigned to students one-on-one like more significant needs like they are on a ventilator.”

Stone says the district is working with a staffing agency to have more school nurses. The district says they will be restructuring the way nurses work and make nurses available through telehealth.

“We’ve got six nurse practitioners on staff," Stone said. "We know we have schools that don’t have a nurse every day. We are going to do to make those nurses available via telemedicine/telehealth so all schools have access to a school nurse every day.”

The district says when school resumes to in-person learning, there will be a room where kids can be assessed. If they are showing symptoms there will be an area where students and staff can isolate. The district has ordered more personal protective equipment for nurses.

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