"You can't educate a child who is not healthy, and you can't keep a child healthy who is not educated"
-M. Jocelyn Elders, former Surgeon General
Traditional Public Schools Provide Healthcare Staff
Unlike charter schools, which are not required to hire nurses (TEA Charter school facts), all public school districts employ healthcare staff, and most districts have full-time staff on each campus. Many school districts provide school-based health centers, offering the school and surrounding community convenient and well-equipped clinics on campuses across the state.
In the San Antonio area, districts like Southwest ISD, Harlandale ISD, and San Antonio ISD offer health centers that provide immunizations, well-child exams, sports physicals, and dental screenings. Our school health services, school nurses, and school-based health centers ensure that our public school students have access to the care they need to manage their individual health conditions.
Our public school nurses keep our kids healthy and prepared to learn, and access to free healthcare in school is vital to our students’ educational success. School-provided healthcare is a valuable resource for students for their physical and mental well-being, as well as peace of mind for parents and families.
What Does a School Nurse Do?
According to Nursing.org, the responsibilities of nurses in different schools vary, but all school nurses share similar tasks.
Within the school and community, nurses are responsible for:
- Creating school-wide or district-wide disease prevention plans
- Communicating with parents and family physicians
- Developing Individualized Education Plans
- Advocating for children and families to receive social services
For each individual student, school nurses are accountable for:
- Assessing and monitoring sick or injured children
- Identifying potential medical problems
- Monitoring chronic conditions like asthma, food allergies, and diabetes
- Administering first aid
- Performing procedures for disabled students like IV feedings and catheter maintenance
- Administering Epinephrine (EpiPen) injections in instances of anaphylaxis
- Distributing prescription medicines at school
School Healthcare During the Pandemic
Our public school nurses are valuable sources for dependable and current information on health in our school districts. School nurses helped to create pandemic response plans and guidelines for safety at school meal distribution sites. Additionally, they offered physical and mental health support on district communication websites.
Laurie Combe, president of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), teaches professional development for school nurses. Combe, who spent 25 years in Klein ISD, was a collaborator on National School Board Association’s COVID-19: Preparing for Widespread Illness in Your School Community, A Legal Guide for School Leaders. Nurse Combe credits school healthcare staff with assisting the health department in timely virus contact investigations. School nurses identified COVID symptoms and conducted interviews in order to trace contact transmissions. Ms. Combe is also involved in helping combat any stigmatization of COVID- infected students and staff during the reopening of schools. Read the full story about Nurse Combe here.
One of many tools The Texas Medical Association provides to school healthcare staff is the decision tree for school nurses. This guide helps nurses decide on a course of action for students experiencing COVID-like symptoms. There is also a current Texas Health and Human Services page dedicated to keeping up with the latest case numbers in Texas Public Schools COVID-19 Data.
Texas K-12 COVID Testing Project
The Texas K-12 COVID Rapid Testing Project is an optional plan for schools to offer rapid nasal-swab COVID testing on campus. This effort intends to keep students and staff safer in schools with state and federally funded testing equipment. TEA states that school systems can “use the test as a screening tool to prevent the virus from coming on campus.” Because the test takes only 15 minutes to get results, schools can quickly respond to a positive test by removing the infected individual before the virus spreads further.
The safety and health of students are of the utmost importance to San Antonio-area district administration and school healthcare staff. Our public schools provide healthcare services to children in hopes of keeping our students healthy, safe, and ready to learn at their full potential!
Benefits of School Provided Healthcare:
• Nurses help keep children in class, which improves attendance and keeps them on track with their lessons.
• School nurses reduce the need for caregivers to have to leave work to pick up a sick child.
• Student healthcare services allow teachers to spend more time teaching. A 2014 Kaiser Health study determined that teachers spend an average of 26 minutes each day each on their students’ health-related issues. When a school nurse is present, that time is lowered to just 6 minutes.
OTHER INFORMATION ON SCHOOL-RELATED STUDENT HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND ONSITE NURSES:
Is My Child Too Sick to go to School Quiz
Free Clinic Near Me- San Antonio
Texas Guide to School Health Services
National Education Association- The Importance of School Nurses
Texas School Nurses Organization- Nurse Toolkit
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