School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Taking a Stand for Public Health

Tomorrow is the first day of school for our students. It is not what we had hoped, we will be remote for now. It is not what we had planned, we spent a good chunk of the summer working towards a hybrid model that would allow some face to face instruction. It is not what we know is best in terms of learning for our students, but safety supersedes everything else. For right now, this is what we have, it’s not ideal and not what we had imagined. 

How we have arrived here is a combination of many things that feel like they are out of our control. I guess the real question is are they really? We did not have a crystal ball in the spring to look into the future and predict that we would be returning to school remotely. In fact, we were told to pack up for two weeks and we would be back on March 30th. Well, today is September 7th, and we are still not back. As of this moment, we don’t have a specific date to reopen school buildings, but learning will resume on Tuesday, September 8th.

You see, buildings did close in March, but learning did not end. It looked and felt different, and it was not ideal, but learning did continue. Our families and communities took a big hit, our businesses did as well, and so has our country. As we sit on the edge of another election, I can’t help but wonder had we had a national response to this deadly pandemic, would we be here, unable to safely open schools? Yes, I am getting political, because nursing is political. We have a license to touch people, that is actually pretty radical. 

Nursing could be a powerful group, we are after all, four million strong. Imagine if we stood our ground for the public health of our country. Alexander Hamilton is credited for saying “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” Has nursing fallen for silence? Why are we silent, when our country is literally in pieces? On this Labor Day, 2020, a year that we would all like to forget, let’s take a stand for public health.

It is our moral imperative to speak out when we see things that are dangerous. Marginalizing science and evidence is dangerous. Let’s speak out when we see injustice, Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous communities are impacted by COVID-19 more than any others because of racial inequities and social structures that were built to create deep divisions.

We have a president who stokes the flames of White Supremacy with conspiracy theories and false narratives that this pandemic will disappear. He touts drugs and treatments that have no validity and promises a vaccine before the election that may be released without the testing rigor that is necessary for public trust. Our public institutions like the CDC and FDA are under undue influence from a corrupt administration that has dismantled our democracy.  

We are a fragile and broken country. My heart hurts when I examine where we are and how we got here. Lillian Wald presciently said, “People rise and fall together. All of us who have worked together (referring to the Henry Street Settlement House) have worked not only for each other but for the cause of human progress.” It is a reminder that our actions and the impact of our inactions have long term consequences. Nursing, will you take a stand for the health of our nation? Public health is calling, will you answer the charge?  

Enduring lessons from the House on Henry Street:

Each of us whole and worthy, 

Poverty is a social issue.

There is power in bridging differences.

Neighbors matter.

In times of need, act.




6 thoughts on “The Relentless School Nurse: Taking a Stand for Public Health”

  1. I am new to following your blog and love it!. I agree that nurses need to stand up and have more say and I have not heard much from the ANA or any other organization and presented their info to the political world all the way to the White House. If nurses stood together and were more outspoken to assist with the support and guidance in this pandemic, they would have to listen to us and the information would be credible and not to support a self serving political agenda but be more along the lines of supporting human lives as a whole. The union that I pay dues to, ATPE, does not even speak up for nurses on get their nurse members involved, only the teachers so the school nurses continue to have very limited support. I find it very sad but when I try to rally other school nurses they will only talk to each other about and not publicly voice what they are feeling/concerned about for fear of some retaliation for their job but wont even say that……some nurses have even left school nursing because of the lack of support for the school nurses…now they have asked the school nurses to take a course on contract tracing and to add that to all of their school nursing duties..what? Then provide the school nurses more support such as extra assistance…should I say more? We have asked and no support was provided.
    Nurse in Texas

    1. Hi Karen, Thank you for this message. I know how complicated all of this is and appreciate your perspective. I did take the contact tracing course, and actually found it helpful. But I do agree, we need support!!!

    2. Welcome Karen, your message is heard and there are many school nurses that share you sentiments! We have to keep speaking out and take powerful stands. I know some are afraid, but we can do this!

  2. My name is Cynthia Sumner I have been an RN for over 20 yrs. Recently working in community nursing- home care specialty. I am transitioning into school nursing as i write this comment. I like what you are saying about the racial inequality in our society. This inequality is entrenched in our public schools and Universities. What a challenge for every nurse to stand up to the injustice that exists in our schools. I believe we have a moral responsibility to say something. Where as we are the keepers of children’s health. Thank you Robin I only subscribe because you deal with real issues head on. I like that.

    1. Thank you for your comment Cynthia & welcome to school nursing! I am so glad you sent this message, it made my day!

    2. Thank you so much Cynthia, I appreciate your message and am so glad that you follow my blog. I agree, we as nurses must stand up for injustices.

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