COVID19, School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: School Nurses – How Are WE Doing?

Dr. Cynthia Samuel, a NJ school nurse, poses an important but often neglected question in this week’s guest blog post. How are school nurses doing during COVID19? We have all been so busy adjusting to our “now normal” of physical distancing, virtual health office hours and managing remote working that many of us have not stopped to reflect on all that has happened. I appreciate the question, the concern, and the chance to take a pause in the frenetic pace of virtual life and check-in. 

What I do know for sure is that school nurses have been instrumental in responding to the needs of students, staff, and families during this public health emergency. We have grappled with ways to support our school communities while balancing the needs of our own families and concerns about the future. There are school nurses who are sewing face masks, doing community tracings with their local health departments, helping with testing, answering hotlines for community questions and a myriad of other valuable services. But that is what we are doing, not how we are doing…

Thank you, Dr. Samuel, for raising this important question. You have given us food for thought, and I look forward to hearing responses from the readers of this blog.

Cynthia Samuel, PhD, RN, NJ-CSN

As School Nurses, we are naturally concerned with the needs, and well-being of others.  During this insidious COVID19 pandemic we’re facing, has anyone asked how are WE doing?  How are School Nurses coping with this “new normal”?  This “new normal” has a profound effect on us personally as well as OUR families!! Some of us are struggling inwardly as we miss our students, the work we left in our health offices, and the hustle and bustle of the school day.  We’re even wondering when (and if) we will ever return to the normal we knew, and what the future holds.

On this emotional roller coaster ride, we think about how our students are faring.  I miss my scholars tremendously!  Despite the usual medical, parent, staff, and occasional student behavior issues I encounter, I wonder how life is treating “my babies”.  At the end of the day, my students often look to me for the love (and parenting) they don’t always receive at home.  I’m certain you all can relate.  I work in an urban school district, and for many, that grab and go breakfast and lunch bag is the only meal they will receive.  I’m concerned because social distancing/quarantine for some is a challenge or just not happening with small living spaces, multiple dwellings in one residence, and extended family living together.  I think about my scholars’ medical needs, basic needs, emotional needs, academic needs, and how some of my parents have to make tough decisions because of the socio-economic environment they reside in.  I grapple with my school being near a Coronavirus hotspot!  How am I doing?  Some days I just don’t know! Physically I’m fine, but I periodically struggle emotionally feeling frustrated over how this pandemic is affecting our school nurses-even shedding a few tears praying for my school family.  Praying we all return without losing anyone. 

This pandemic leaves me pondering over life as we once knew it, and the uncertainties of the future.  Many states canceled the remainder of the school year.  As school nurses, we wonder about how that will affect us moving forward.  As school nurses, we are accustomed to executing our individual health office routine as June approaches.  No two days are identical, but many of us were catching up on state-mandated screenings, preparing for Pre-K and Kindergarten registration for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, and coordinating spring sports physicals to name a few before the pandemic forced closing schools.  Social distancing has me, and I’m sure you reflect about life’s trajectory on many levels.  What are we going to walk into moving forward?  That being said, my family and I are doing well thank God.  More importantly, from me to you fellow school nurses, I encourage you to stay connected:   reach out, phone a friend, Zoom, or catch up on a hobby.  I wish you good health, safety, and that we can return to our health offices collaborating with one another soon.



Bio: Dr. Cynthia Elizabeth Samuel is the senior school nurse in the Irvington Board of Education. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She went on to receive a Master of Science in Health Administration, and a certificate in School Nursing from Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University).  Dr. Samuel also received a certificate in Administration and Supervision and her doctorate in Health Sciences from Seton Hall University.

Dr. Cynthia Samuel has held a number of nursing positions, but for the last 33 years, the focus of her career is on caring for and educating school-aged children from pre-kindergarten through 5th grade and their families.

Dr. Cynthia Samuel shares her expertise in publications and presentations on school nursing practice: The school nurse’s role: Why we need school-based clinics in urban communities, Financing school-based health clinics, and School nursing practice: Transformation through health care reform, to name a few. Dr. Samuel’s nursing practice reflects NASN’s 21st Century School Nurse Framework that creates an overarching structure including concepts integral to the complex clinical specialty practice of school nursing.  You can reach Dr. Samuel via email:

Dr. Samuel was featured in a public awareness campaign highlighting the work of NJ school nurses. The link is below:

NJEA ad campaign highlights school nurses

NJEA ad campaign highlights school nurses


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