School nurses across the country are grappling with how to balance the daily needs of our students and school communities while planning for school closings, as #COVID19 unfolds hour by hour. We are inundated with students and staff who are concerned about symptoms that suddenly feel more ominous than a cough or cold. In my four decades of nursing practice, this is unchartered territory for me and so many others.
Yesterday, at our staff meeting after school, we held frank discussions about the needs of our students and families who are facing a complete disruption in services that are part of the fabric of our nation. Did you know that 22 million children rely on free or reduced price for breakfast and lunch at school? So, how will we feed our kids? My school district of 14,000 students receive breakfast and lunch every day, even in the summer. Sudden school closings for snow days are anticipated for a day or two at the most. The possibility of abruptly closing for 2-3 weeks and having a very brief time to plan brings a heightened level of stress on top of a very demanding work schedule.
The one shining light in all of this brings a new discussion about the importance of having a school nurse in every building and what happens when you do not! It is encouraging to see headlines across the country focusing on the true work of school nursing. Here is another excellent example of who we are and the scope of our work: