School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: What if We Were Talking About Head Lice and Not COVID

Judy Doran, one of my school nurse colleagues writes “Maine Points,” a collection of musings from her view of pandemic school nursing in the beautiful state of Maine. Her most recent guest blog asks us to consider what would happen if we were sharing updates on head lice in schools instead of COVID. Imagine the outrage, concern, and demands for action if we were talking about lice, a mere nuisance and certainly not a health hazard. Instead, we have communities completely ignoring the health implications of COVID, pretending that it is not the dangerous virus that has plagued the world for more than twenty-six months. 


Wow, imagine this…what if we replaced the word COVID with LICE on our reporting forms? Imagine the concerned calls we’d be getting in our offices? Imagine your principal’s phone lighting up from concerned/outraged families. Imagine a school board meeting?? There would be calls to DO SOMETHING! Clean the school, exclude people with lice, and get a pro with combs and potions to come in. Distance people. No circle time. DO SOMETHING, OUR CHILDREN HAVE LICE. Get a full, accurate accounting of exactly how much of this stuff is going around in school. They’d want to know where it came from, and how to keep it out of the home. Should I clean the car? What about the bedding? Hand wringing, angst, concern.

Instead, we have an airborne virus that has killed one million Americans. It has proven itself to be likely the fastest spreading virus in human history. It has demonstrated a real capacity to mutate to its advantage, throw curve balls and leave us playing whack a mole. A mild case of COVID can still be a super unpleasant stretch of days. That is not the end of the story though because we have NO idea what kind of long-term effects we will see from COVID infections. We do not know its effect on children. Emerging evidence has shown that COVID-19 survivors could suffer from persistent symptoms. US CDC Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions
Ask a school nurse how our national and local response is going now. Mask, don’t mask, quarantine for exposure….or not, test today maybe? maybe day 5. Come back on day 6 just wear a mask and don’t let us know that you tested end of day 5 and were still positive. I’ll bet if you asked a school nurse which scenario would get a more comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck response, today, the answer would be lice. WOW.
Judy Doran “Maine Points”

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