Chris Amidon, BSN, RN, NCSN, is a school nurse leader who speaks out when she sees unsafe practices. While Chris has transitioned from school health to college health, that does not stop her advocacy. As this school year began in her former district, and case numbers rose, Chris put her concerns and solutions in writing to the school superintendent.
Imagine the influence we would have if the more than 96,000 school nurses across the country would write a similar letter to our school boards! I am committed to printing each letter that is sent to me from colleagues across the country. We do not have reinvent the wheel, we can use letters like Chris’s as a template to inform our own boards of education.
Here is Chris’s letter to the school superintendent:
As a community member who served in the Crawfordsville Schools from 1996-2018, most of those as the Health Services Coordinator, I was dismayed at the decision earlier this month not to require masks for all staff and students in our schools. I appreciate that you advocated for requiring masks for the younger students who cannot be vaccinated, but public health guidance is that all K-12 students and staff should be wearing masks right now while the spread of the Delta and other variants is rampant. The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of School Nurses, and our own excellent county health officials all support this evidence-based practice.
Unfortunately, immunization rates remain low in our community, so too many of those who could and should be vaccinated are not protected. Also unfortunate is the fact that the people making these crucial decisions are choosing not to listen to facts, evidence, and science, but are instead listening to parents with wildly inaccurate, emotional claims. Some of these parents described themselves as nurses, which was mortifying to me. Most nurses do, indeed, believe and know that masks work and that vaccines are safe and efficacious. To testify otherwise is reckless, and a violation of the profession’s ethical standards.
I appreciate that you have a polarized community to serve, and that the ground is shifting constantly beneath us, requiring nimble responses and ever-evolving policies. As evidenced by the first two weeks of school, with the exponential spread of infections among children and adults in the schools, the “no mitigation measures” experiment was a failure. I am grateful for your leadership on this and other issues, and I urge you to work with the school board members to make the best decisions for the health of the children and the community. If we can prevent even one member of the community from death or serious complications from this disease, the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask is very little to ask. And children are altruistic—if the adults explain that the rationale is to protect one another, they will most often do the right thing.
Chris Amidon BSN, RN, NCSN
Nationally Certified School Nurse Indiana Director, National Association of School Nurses
Bio: Chris Amidon, BSN, RN, NCSN, came to Wabash College from the Crawfordsville Community School Corporation, where she spent more than twenty years as a school nurse and health services coordinator.
Chris was named Indiana’s School Nurse of the Year in 2009, and serves as the state’s representative on the board of the National Association of School Nurses. Chris is a founding board member of the Montgomery County Free Clinic.