It happened again, this will be the second School Nurse Day during a pandemic. This time last year, as we limped our way through School Nurse Day 2020, it was hard to look too far into the future. Much has changed since last May, many schools have returned to some form of in-person learning, and thankfully we have the opportunity to vaccinate our way out of the pandemic. This year School Nurse Day, which is always the Wednesday of Nurse’s Week, is May 12th.
Last year, the pandemic was brand new, we were still grappling with what it meant, how we were in lockdown, and what was happening around us. Now we are more than fourteen months into this new world and we find ourselves continuing to tread water, but moving closer to the shoreline. There is hope on the horizon, but we are tentative given all that has unfolded this past year. We led our schools through the uncertainty. Even if we do not own the title of Chief Well-Being Officer, we earned it over and over again this pandemic year and every year that preceded.
School nurses have been tough and confident under the extreme pressure we have encountered. We have shared our challenges, triumphs, peaks, and valleys through social media, Zoom, and private messages. School nurses have connected to each other and deepened relationships that have been lifelines through the most consequential year in our lifetimes. We have spoken truth to power, even when our messages are not happily or even civilly received. We have shown vulnerability along with leadership, a sign of courage in a tumultuous time. While we may not have all of the answers, we have been guided by evidence, science, and public health principles.
Our workload has quadrupled and our stress level has been off the charts. We walk in public health humility because as we have learned more about this virus, we have had to pivot time and time again. School nurses have translated the ever-evolving mitigation strategies to keep our school communities healthy and safe. We have become expert contact tracers, trackers of this virus even when those impacted are either uncooperative or do not believe in the science. Care coordination is one of the hallmarks of our practice and it has been in high gear during COVID. School nurses have worked at the epicenter of the pandemic as more and more schools reopened across the country and COVID tried its best to invade the safe spaces we have created.
School nurses have been on the frontlines of COVID because there are no sidelines in this fight to keep our students and staff safe. We are the ultimate problem solvers, the go-to public health professional in our school buildings who have been tapped to ensure school safety and encourage compliance in an environment that sometimes fights against the recommendations that we know work. Some of our colleagues report incredible support and collegiality that many of us only dream of experiencing. Some of us are leaving the profession, retiring early, or resigning. It has been that kind of year, one where we also have to balance our own needs, wants, and family obligations. It is not all doom and gloom though, many school nurses have found their voices through this unnerving time. Our national profile has been lifted and more people understand the urgency and importance of having a school nurse in every building, every day.
To celebrate our continued #Relentless perseverance and commitment to our school communities, we are having a #SchoolNurseChat on Twitter, Wednesday, May 12th at 8 pm ET.
You do not need to be an expert at Twitter, but you do need a Twitter account! Reach out if you need more information about #TwitterChats. See you on May 12th!