When students return to their classes in the Cheatham County School District in August, there will be a school resource officer (SRO) in every school building, but there will not be a school nurse in every school. According to school district officials, there will be six school nurses on duty, but there is still a need for more nurses to be added to the staff.
“The district’s five-year plan includes a nurse in every building and to reach the recommended 1:750 ratio. We would need two additional nurses immediately to reach that ratio,” according to Shelley Duke, CCSD Supervisor of Coordinated Health Services.
However, there is currently no funding for the positions, which would have salaries based on the job candidate’s experience. “It would be up to the Director of Schools and School Board if they want to request those funds in next year’s budget,” said Tim Adkins, CCSD Communications Director.
In the meantime, the school system is working hard to make sure the nursing staffers they do have, are prepared when school resumes. Duke said school nurses will have the CDC/Tennessee Department of Health recommended PPE (personal protective equipment) when they return to duty.
“We are working remotely together right now to discuss additional responsibilities with response to the coronavirus when students return in August,” she said. In addition, Duke said she and the six nursing staffers are discussing the best way to educate students on healthy habits when classes resume, including “proper hand washing and protective equipment use among social distancing and other general health habits.”
School nurses will also coordinate with school custodians to ensure school clinics are kept disinfected within CDC guidelines, she said. They “will have access to disinfectant in each clinic and will continue to work with principals/supervisors and custodial staff to ensure proper cleaning for both prevention and response are met,” Duke said.
At a time when everyone is concerned about being safe during the coronavirus outbreak, school nurses provide vital services.
“School nurses are important and perform a critical role within the school health program by addressing the major health problems experienced by children,” she said. “This role includes providing preventative and screening services, health education and assistance with decision-making about health, and immunization against preventable diseases,” Duke said.