school nurses

"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

Public Schools Provide Dependable Healthcare Staff

Unlike most charter schools, which are not mandated to hire school nurses (TEA Charter school facts),each public school district employs healthcare staff. Most public school districts have full-time healthcare staff on each campus.  Numerous school districts offer school-based health centers, which provide the school and community access to convenient and well-equipped clinics on school campuses.  In the Houston area, districts like Alief ISD and Lamar Consolidated ISD offer health centers that provide  sports physicals, immunizations, well- child exams, and dental screenings.  Our public school health services, nurses, and school-based health centers provide our public school students with access to the care that is necessary to manage each child’s individual health concerns.  

Healthy Students in Schools

Houston-area public school nurses keep our kids healthy and prepared to learn.  Access to free healthcare in our schools is crucial to students’ educational successes.  School-provided healthcare is an important resource for students and their mental and physical well-being, as well as vital peace of mind for their families.

What Does a School Nurse Do?

Nursing.org, explains that the responsibilities of nurses in many schools vary, but all school nurses have similar basic tasks.  

Within the community and the school, nurses are responsible for:

  • Communicating with parents and family physicians
  • Creating school-wide or district-wide disease prevention plans
  • Developing Individualized Education Plans
  • Advocating for families and children to receive social services

For individual students, school nurses are in charge of:

  • Assessing and monitoring sick or injured children
  • Monitoring chronic conditions like asthma, food allergies, and diabetes
  • Administering basic first aid
  • Identifying potential medical problems
  • Performing procedures for disabled students like IV feedings and catheter maintenance
  • Distributing prescription medicines at school
  • Administering Epinephrine (EpiPen) injections in instances of anaphylaxis

School Nursing and Health During the Pandemic

School nurses are reliable sources for accurate and current information on health issues in our school districts. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, school nurses helped to create various pandemic response plans and safety guidelines for school meal distribution sites.  Additionally, they regularly offered physical and mental health support online on district websites. 

Laurie Combe, National Association of School Nurses (NASN) president, teaches professional development nationally for school nurses. Combe spent 25 years as a school nurse in Klein ISD, and she was a valuable collaborator in the National School Board Association’s COVID-19: Preparing for Widespread Illness in Your School Community, A Legal Guide for School Leaders.  Nurse Laurie Combe credits school healthcare staff with success in assisting the health department with virus contact investigations.  Nurses quickly identified COVID-like symptoms and conducted interviews to trace contact transmissions.  Nurse Combe is also interested in helping combat the possible stigmatization of COVID- infected students and staff during the reopening of schools.  Read more about Nurse Laurie Combe here.

One of numerous resources The Texas Medical Association provides to healthcare staff in schools is the decision tree for school nurses.  This helpful guide assists nurses with planning courses of action for students experiencing COVID symptoms.  Additionally, there is an updatedTexas Health and Human Services page dedicated to providing the latest COVID case numbers in Texas Public Schools COVID-19 Dat

The Texas K-12 COVID Rapid Testing Project

The new Texas K-12 COVID Rapid Testing Project is an optional program for public schools to offer rapid COVID testing on school campuses.  This effort aims to keep students and staff safe in schools with state and federal- funded nasal swab COVID testing equipment.  The TEA states that school systems may “use the test as a screening tool to prevent the virus from coming on campus.”  And because the rapid test takes just 15 minutes to indicate results, public schools can respond quikly to a positive test by removing an infected individual before the virus spreads any further. 

Student health and safety are extremely important to Houston-area school district administration and school nursing staff.  Our local public schools provide dependable healthcare services to children to keep our students consistently healthy, safe, and eager to learn at full potential!

School Provided Healthcare Benefits

Nurses in schools reduce the number of instances that caregivers have to leave work to pick up their sick child.
School healthcare services allow educators to spend more valuable time teaching. A 2014 Kaiser Health study stated that teachers can spend an average of 26 minutes per day on students’ health-related concerns. If a school nurse is present, that time can be lowered to 6 minutes per day.
School nurses can help keep children present in class, which improves attendance and keeps them caught up on their lessons.

ADDITIONAL 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- Houston Area

Texas Guide to School Health Services

Importance of School Nurses– The National Education Association

Nurse Toolkit– Texas School Nurses Organization

K-12 COVID-19 Testing Project FAQs– Texas Education Agency

STUDENT HEALTHCARE NEWS