School district after school district are lifting mask mandates, ending contact tracing, quarantining, and other public health safety protocols. Short-sightedness and the lack of public will beat out the principles of public health this go-round. The future remains unclear, but we will have to be ready to pivot, as we have done for the past two years.
It is painful to watch states and school districts ending protective measures so abruptly without clear metrics to know that we can still keep our students and staff safe. There is a narcissism infused in the message that “parental choice” will inform decisions moving forward. Schools are communities, they are not built for one family. We are responsible for other people’s children.
Moral dilemma and moral injury has become a significant unintended consequence of school nurses on the front lines of COVID-19 in schools. The rush to unmask and pretend that COVID is already in our rear view mirrors has created additional challenges that we are just beginning to see. For example, a school nurse reached out to me to present this real-time scenario that many of us may be tasked to do. Here is the thread to our discussion:
me: Wow…what an ask! Talk about a moral dilemma. Do you have a union? I think this is an inappropriate ask. This is much more about human behavior! The bullying is going to be real.
school nurse: I totally agree. Our social worker is the one that reached out because she’ll be the primary person managing the bullying. I didn’t even think of asking the union! Or even the thought that I’m allowed to say “no”.
me: Stay strong, this is tough stuff and I am sorry they are asking you to do something that you do not agree with. I would never break your confidence, but can I share the ask from your school in a blog post. I feel like there are many other school nurses who may be asked to do similar presentations and are struggling.
school nurse: Absolutely! Anonymous is great with me and, I 100% agree—I think it could be helpful for other school nurses going through similar situations!
What would you do? School nurses can say “no” when asked to do something that we know is inherently unsafe.