Schools nurses will be on the frontlines of COVID-19 during the school year

Schools nurses will be on the frontlines of COVID-19 during the school year
Many schools across the nation don’t have a full-time nurse, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem in our area. Several local school leaders said they are ready to go if a student gets sick. (Source: WBRC)

CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - There may be more pressure on school nurses this fall, as schools across the country reopen during this pandemic…many without a full-time school nurse.

The National Association of School Nurses said less than 40% of U.S. schools employ a full-time nurse, and about a quarter of all schools don’t have a nurse at all. But school leaders in Chilton County said they’re covered.

“We have 12 enrollment schools in Chilton County. We have 12 nurses,” Lead Nurse for Chilton County Schools, Chrysta Russell.

“We have one campus that shares their nurse with their annex building. We also have two non-enrollment schools that we place a nurse there as needed,” Russell said.

Russell added that a nurse is assigned to every student in Alabama, regardless of whether the school employs a nurse.

“Let’s say for instance if a student were at the annex building and there was a concern by a teacher or an administrator, they would be able to call the nurse from the high school or the K-12 school setting where that nurse physically is. If an immediate need arose, then they would be able to contact that nurse and she would be able to respond immediately,” Russell explained.

In addition to their normal duties, school nurses will also be the first line of defense if a student shows symptoms of COVID-19.

“Do I know what’s going to happen? No. I think probably at the very beginning it may be a little bit of fear amongst students and parents as well. So, we may be putting out a lot fires, even some that may not be necessary right at the beginning, but we have plans for that, and we will just follow the plan and make adjustments as we need to,” Russell said.

Russell also admitted that the thought of contracting COVID-19 and bringing it home to her loved ones, has crossed her mind. She said she’ll be taking extra precautions to ensure that doesn’t happen.

She also said the district has stocked up on PPE and cleaning supplies, so she believes she’ll be less likely to get the virus.

Chilton County students head back to class on August 17th.

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