School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Pandemic School Nursing Coast to Coast – More From Maine

Pandemic School Nursing Coast to Coast is a series of guest blog posts from our colleagues across the country. School nurses have been speaking out and sharing their perspectives! Here is another message from Maine:


As a nurse in a large district, the job of working in schools is starting to feel more and more like working in the hospital. The state keeps adding to our work load with little thought or consideration to our “normal” school days with a full population of students.

A deluge of work that is impossible to keep up with.
True medical emergencies that need our immediate attention
and disease management of a public health crisis.
There are school nurses in our state currently working 60 hours a week with no compensation from their boards or administrators and the expectation of “this is the job this year.” 
We are working as boots on the ground for both the DOE and CDC with absolutely  no support from the state and (while not as important) NO recognition for the critical work we are doing in schools. A one time spring video of thanks from the state is NOT enough to really understand that we are in fact becoming a branch of the Maine CDC.
We understand that this is a necessary evil, but the workload is becoming untenable.
– We contact trace
– We monitor our students who are and aren’t vaccinated
– We monitor and manage students who are pool testing
– We implement and run complex pool testing programs
– We become masters of complex algorithms that change weekly and sometimes daily
– We must meticulously go through our student’s school days at the junior high and high school levels when there is a positive case and investigate student movements which can take HOURS of our time
– We deal with angry parents who feel we are punishing their families
– We make frantic phone calls at night to ensure that students who need to quarantine are kept home and don’t show up on a bus the next morning
And above all of this, we then have our regular responsibilities. Over the last 2 decades, the acuity of our student populations have grown. We take care of students with endocrine disorders, complex seizure disorders, respiratory disorders, and socio emotional issues that grow with the pandemic. We give daily medications to up to 20 students per day. We call parents to notify them of illness, injury and vaccine requirements. 
If we’re lucky, we are one person in a building, though there are many rural districts in the state where one nurse covers up to 4 schools and vaccination rates for Covid are around 40% causing multiple outbreaks and breakthrough cases.
In short, there are not enough hours in the day to do all we do. Most of us are at a level of exhaustion that is usually felt in March. It is still September.
So we ask:
When will the CDC begin to accept more covid management of students who are Covid positive. Is the expectation that our schools will become mobile primary care clinics?
If so, when will the state provide us with ancillary staff to help manage the growing complexities of school health in the Covid era.
We are burnt out and drowning.
We love our schools, our coworkers, our students, but we are human. And we are tired.
Please help. 
Jennifer B
If you would like to share your experiences in pandemic school nursing, please feel free to reach out! Email me at

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