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The role of school nurses

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POSTED: October 31, 2007 5:00 a.m.

The Bryan County School System has a highly qualified staff of dedicated professional nurses. Having the services of a school nurse is a very important ingredient in providing a safe environment for all children and staff.

The health related needs of students are intensifying in our nation’s schools. Student safety is the primary concern for professional school nurses who deliver health services to our students. The school nurse’s duties and responsibilities are many. The list below highlights just a few of them:

The school nurse promotes a healthy school environment.

- The school nurse is the health expert in the school setting. She has the educational knowledge and background to be actively involved in promoting a safe school environment.

The school nurse provides direct health care to students and staff.

- The school nurse provides emergency services including triage, illness and injury care, referral, and follow-up.

- The school nurse supervises the management and treatment of health conditions within the school setting including blood sugar monitoring and asthma management.

The school nurse provides leadership for the provisions of health services.

- The school nurse makes use of her professional education and skills to assist schools and local communities in the development, implementation, and evaluation of coordinated school health education.

- The school nurse acts as a case manager, particularly for those children with special health care needs.

The school nurse provides screening and referral for health conditions.

- The school nurse provides health counseling, including referral and follow-up.

- The school nurse connects students, families, and staff with community health care providers.

The school nurse serves in a leadership role for health policies and programs.

- The school nurse is in a position to assess immunization needs, serve in a leadership capacity to develop school immunization programs, and promote community awareness of the value of immunization in the primary prevention of disease throughout the lifespan.

- The school nurse has the educational background and knowledge to assist school districts to develop and implement practices that protect employees from blood borne pathogens.

The school nurse serves as a liaison among school personnel, family, community, and health care providers.

- The school nurse helps to provide a smooth transition from home or hospital to school. A partnership among health care providers, students, and their families can be facilitated by the school nurse.

- The school nurse, in the role of case manager, provides oversight of care and services and serves as the point of contact for communication among the student, family, school staff, and health care provider.

The parent/guardian can be a big help to the nurse by just following a few procedures. Deciding when a child is too sick to go to school can be a difficult decision for a parent or guardian to make. When trying to decide, use the guidelines below to help you.

Go to School - If your child has any of the following symptoms, he/she should probably go to school:

- Sniffles, a runny nose, and a mild cough without a fever (This could be an allergic response to dust, pollen, or seasonal changes.)

- Vague complaints of aches, pains, or fatigue

Stay at Home - If your child has any of the following symptoms, please keep your child at home or make appropriate child care arrangements:

- APPEARANCE, BEHAVIOR - is unusually tired or pale; has lack of appetite; is difficult to wake, confused, or irritable. This is sufficient reason to exclude a child.

- FEVER - temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Remember that a child must be fever-free for 24 hours, without fever reducing medication (Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen), before returning to school.

- CHRONIC COUGH - should be seen by a health care provider. The condition may be contagious and may require treatment.

- SORE THROAT - especially with fever or swollen glands in the neck. (With strep throat, the child may return to school after 24 hours on antibiotics.)

- RASH - body rash, especially with fever or itching. Heat rashes and allergic reactions are not contagious.

- EAR INFECTIONS WITHOUT FEVER - does not need to be excluded, but the child needs to get medical treatment and follow-up. Untreated ear infections can cause permanent hearing loss.

- CHICKEN POX - Children must stay at home for five (5) days after the onset of blisters, or until all pox are scabbed over and dry.

If your child shows any of the above symptoms at school, it will be necessary to pick him or her up from school.

Bringing a child to school with any of the above symptoms puts other children and staff at risk of getting sick.

If all parents keep their sick children at home, we will have stronger, healthier, and happier children.

While we regret any inconvenience this may cause, in the long run this means fewer lost work days and less illness for children.

 

by Billy McGrath

Director of Student Services

 

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