School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: I’m just going to say it: It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff

Apoorva Mandavilli, a journalist from the New York Times, graciously interviewed me about what reopening of schools looks like in the midst of a pandemic. The conversation happened in the context of this past week when the pressure to reopen schools has become a political grenade. Dr. Megan Ranney recommended me for the interview, so a big appreciation to my friend and colleague. 

For the past few weeks, I have been feeling a sense of foreboding and that we are being asked to do something profoundly unsafe. I shared my perspective with the journalist and summed up my concern with this statement: “I’m just going to say it: It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff.” I don’t like to instill or promote fear but is irresponsible to pretend that school reopening in the fall is business as usual as the President and many in his administration would like us to believe.

We need a national response to COVID-19 from leaders who center the safety of children, not partisan posturing. Is there anywhere that we can agree that the safety of children is paramount. We are missing a national plan. We have no plans for testing, tracing, and isolating. We have no large epidemiological studies to fully understand transmission so that we can make decisions based on evidence.  I haven’t even mentioned the antiquated ventilation systems that plague many aging school buildings or how the transmission could very well be airborne

We are witnessing the death of expertise, a dismissal of the World Health Organization, discounting the guidelines from the CDC, and ignoring what is happening right before our eyes, the exponential spiking of cases across the country. Consequential decisions are being made that will impact the health and safety of students and staff. And that is why I said what I said…

How to Reopen Schools: What Science and Other Countries Teach Us


5 thoughts on “The Relentless School Nurse: I’m just going to say it: It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff”

  1. Great article. Have you spoken to our NJ lawmakers, governor, mayors, about your feelings?

  2. Thank you Robin, I have been reading your blog for some time now and feel you to be a trusted voice for our profession. It takes courage to speak up, even for something so obvious.

    1. Thank you so much Kim! I really appreciate your thoughtful message and your support of my blog.

  3. Thank you Robin! I’m really grateful for your response because what you said MUST be said!
    I have been following the return to school issues from a distance as a recently retired SN. And it appears that once again Nurses are pulling up their bootstraps, donning their gear, and forging through to do what must be done. I read the questions, requests for procedures, clarifications of issues, problem solving, resource sharing and on and on and on!
    So I’ve come to the conclusion and am reassured by your article that this might fall on School Nurses to take the proverbial bull by the horns and send your response to our state officials!
    Our numbers are improving in Maryland and a prudent approach is being considered for return to school. I truly worry for the students and staff in the surging states.

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