School nurses, consider attending your board meetings to present you challenges, triumphs and solutions. Remember to bring your data and stories to share because it can make a difference. Speaking at the meetings are a time to educate the public about the expansive role of school nursing. Especially during COVID, all eyes are on health and safety, time for us to not only shine, but to ask for what we need to provide care to the school community.
We have been working diligently behind the scenes to collect the data needed to support additional school nurses and to restore our school health office aides. We have had a positive response to our requests and most of what we have asked for has been approved. It warranted a thank you to the board for listening and acting on our collecitve efforts. This is our message of apprecation, but acknowledging there is more to come!
Dear Superintendent McCombs and the CCSD Board of Education,
My name is Robin Cogan and I have been a Camden City School District (CCSD) nurse since 2001. This headline caught my attention, “When School Nurses Are Spread Thin, The Whole School Feels It Too.” This is what has happened since school began. COVID has challenged anyone who works in education, but none more than those who are tasked with protecting the health and safety of children and the school community. CCSD school nurses are a dedicated team of professionals with a shared commitment to providing evidence-based care that follows the recommendations and guidelines set forth by the CDC and the NJ Department of Health during this public health emergency. CCSD school nurses have 665 years of collective nursing experience among us.
Last month, school nurses provided testimony about how the American Rescue Plan Funds could help support adequate staffing in school health offices across the district. We shared suggestions that included reinstating our School Health Office Aides, creating two float school nurse positions to help with needed coverage, and securing contracts for substitute school nurses so that we are not traveling in between schools when school nurses are absent, leaving schools unattended. At the end of the evening, one of the Board members said “when healthcare professionals ask for help, we need to pay attention and listen.” We are here to say thank you, not only for listening but for taking action to help us meet the enormous challenges that we all face.
We welcome the announcements of hiring 3 float school nurses and the return of our School Health Office Aides. These guardrails will help us regain our footing. We want to thrive so our students can flourish. On-the-ground help, at the school level, will make a big difference. COVID continues to wreak havoc on our community. Just this week, our COVID Activity Level Index went from Moderate to High and that changes the number of days a student or staff quarantines.
School nurses are acting as the de facto health department because they have reached their surge capacity. Embedding contact tracing supports with the district, streamlining the multiple levels of report requirements, and providing a school health aide in each building to help with the flow of traffic to the school nurse’s office as well as manage the supervision of the isolation room is an important starting point to build a team over time that is sustainable.
Next month we will be back to talk about technology and substitute school nurses….but today we want to say thank you!