School Nurse Responsibilities During the Pandemic
The last few years have transformed nearly every aspect of healthcare, education, and operations. Schools have adapted to embrace remote and hybrid learning models and school nurse responsibilities have evolved as well.
This blog explores five ways school nurse responsibilities have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Key Member of School’s COVID Task Force
Prior to March 2020, school nurses worked to assess children’s health conditions, communicate with parents, and provide health and safety training for faculty and staff.
As new guidelines and CDC recommendations rolled out during the pandemic, nurses began to work closer with school administration to interpret and assess their school’s plan of action. They were charged with navigating state and local guidelines for the entire school community. School nurses helped make decisions on remote vs. in-person learning, testing protocols, and other COVID-related issues that affected students, faculty, and staff.
2. Subject Matter Expert On All Things COVID
“After schools closed, my role quickly shifted from the caretaker to the informer,” says Amy Isler, MSN, RN, CSN on Nurse.org.
School nurses quickly became the main point of communication for parents and families during the early days of the pandemic, and even still. They are the school’s subject matter experts on all things COVID and continue to provide guidance, student health information, and resources to the school community.
Sierra Canyon School Nurse Holly Calig, RN, BSN, PHN cites that she frequently communicates with families regarding COVID testing and the school’s return to campus policy for students after quarantine.
3. Strong Partnerships with Local Physicians
Some nurses credit the pandemic with strengthening their relationships with local pediatricians. As conversations continue about COVID-19 vaccinations for children, parents are seeking advice from both their school nurse and their primary doctor.
Wendy Barber, RN at Charlotte Country Day School says: “We’re working with students’ pediatricians for advice on booster requirements or recommendations. We really want the pediatricians for each individual student to make the decision.”
Communication and collaboration with pediatricians can help ease parents’ anxieties about getting their child vaccinated or boosted.
“My partnership has become a lot stronger with pediatricians, ensuring that we give good information to families to help weigh their decision to get their children vaccinated,” says nurse Holly Calig. “It’s much easier for parents to talk with their pediatricians about vaccines and boosters.”
4. School Health Compliance Enforcer
Even during remote or hybrid learning, there are certain immunizations and health requirements that students must adhere to. School nurses are responsible for collecting the required paperwork and assessing compliance on an annual basis whether students are in-person or remote.
An electronic health system like Magnus can help schools’ health staff easily collect forms, stay organized, and reduce manual labor.
5. COVID Rapid Test Administrator
While the circumstances vary by school, nurses are also responsible for administering rapid COVID tests in the case of symptomatic students or return to campus after quarantine.
Jennifer Sezonov, RN, BSN at Wheaton Academy obtained a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) license to operate a lab within her school for rapid COVID tests. She has also trained Wheaton’s athletic health staff to administer tests for student athletes if they are feeling sick before a game.
Sierra Canyon nurse Holly Calig provides rapid testing on-campus for students returning from COVID isolation as part of their return to school policy.
From communication to compliance and everything in between, COVID-19 has changed the role of school nurses and health staff. We recently hosted a webinar with four school nurses that addressed many of these changes. Visit our webinar library and select “COVID-19 Vaccinations – Recommended or Required?” to learn more.
As private school healthcare providers continue to adapt to the changing needs of today’s students, the need for a centralized health record system is paramount. Contact us for a free demo to learn how Magnus Health can help your school manage student health in the age of COVID-19.