A big shout-out to the Maine Association of School Nurses (MASN) Executive Committee for writing a compelling letter to the Governor, Department of Education Commissioner, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner, and the Maine CDC Director about their concerns with the COVID guidelines. The positive outcome was the MASN President was invited to a meeting last week to discuss the changes!
This is a big win for MASN and its members. It can also serve as a guide or a template for other state school nursing organizations to consider writing to their government leadership. There is power in letter writing, it is not a lost art. The collective action by MASN got the attention of the highest levels of government in their state because of this brief, but powerful message. MASN addressed their concerns but also included actionable steps. They spelled out the issues, and provided a solution and an “ask”.
Here is the letter, signed by the MASN Executive Committee, drafted by Janis Hogan, NASN Director from Maine:
The Maine Association of School Nurses (MASN) represents over 300 school nurses from across the state. Maine School Nurses have been instrumental in the management of Covid-19 in our schools. School Nurses are experienced in population-based health, including illness surveillance and contact tracing, however, our expertise and concerns have often been overlooked at both the state and local levels.
The most recent CDC/DOE Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) dated March 8th, have caused considerable confusion among schools across the state. With the advent of optional masking and many schools no longer contact tracing, school nurses are still in the position of monitoring and reporting positive cases. Currently, school nurses and administrators are interpreting the SOP inconsistently regarding the quarantine of close contacts to positive Covid 19 cases – specifically known household contacts and self-identified close contacts.
We are asking for clear, consistent quarantine guidelines for household close contacts and known close contacts of positive Covid 19 cases to be added to the SOP. This is needed to ensure the health and safety of students, staff, and the greater community. MASN is also requesting a clear process to address concerns during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic with the CDC and DOE to improve communication and collaboration in the future. We look forward to hearing from you.
-Signed by Maine Association of School Nurses Executive Committee Members