Education Spotlight: How school nurses are playing a pivotal role in the pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

Throughout the school year, they keep our kids healthy and able to learn. During the pandemic, their role became all the more critical.

Landon Burke spoke with two experts about common misconceptions regarding school nurses.

Landon: What are some common misconceptions about school nurses?

Liz Wiggins: I would say one of the biggest misconceptions on school nurses is that we're checking kids for lice and putting on band-aids and ice packs all day long. Also, that we're nurses who don't want to work in the clinical setting anymore and just start looking for the easy road, which is far from the truth. What school nurses do on a daily basis is provide a lot of the specialized help procedures that allow kids to stay in school.

Marcus Padilla: These days, they're managing chronic health issues like diabetes and asthma in the classroom. While in a school setting, and even mental health issues, touching on that and these things, you know, very involved a lot of steps to make sure the students are really supported and their health needs are met, so that they can, they can focus and learn in the classroom.

Landon: How have school nurses specifically helped guide our kids through the pandemic?

Marcus: Well, at the beginning of the pandemic, our students and our families were quarantined. This was a tough time for everybody. Everyone was, you know, feeling very uncertain, stress. There were a lot of additional challenges. Family members, students' families, we're hearing stories where parents are laid off just a lot of additional challenges. We were part of the school team. Nurses were doing wellness calls, checking in on families making sure they had kind of the basic necessities that the students were helping. And then based on those conversations, we were, you know, providing, guiding them to community resources. Where could they, pick up a food box to help supplement the family's needs? Giving some, you know, basic advice about 'might be time to go to the pediatrician if the child has a cough for a couple days,' or some of these things that they were concerned that they possibly connected to COVID. As when time went on, students were returning to the classroom, it became COVID testing, first for staff and students, so the kids could feel safe and be safe.

Liz: Policymaking I mean that's been a big part of our jobs. We are the health professional in the school setting, and it's our job to help set up these clinics. As the county nurses, we not only have our own caseload, but we also help some of the smaller districts that don't have the luxury of having a school nurse because not all schools have a nurse on campus.

Marcus: You know, our healthcare community in Merced County really came together, and our school nurses were a big part of that.
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