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New Back to School: How the role of school nurses is changing

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 6:19 PM EDT
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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - This upcoming school year, the role of school nurses looks different than in the past.

Aileen Fleming has been working as a nurse at North Cross School in Roanoke County since 2001. This year, the school will hold in-person classes every day, and Fleming will be overseeing the school’s new testing regimen.

“I was just so excited that the school is doing this because it’s a must. We need to have this for the children, for the safety of our children,” Fleming said.

Fleming will help give faculty, staff and students COVID tests before school starts and then again two weeks later, and again two weeks after that. She will also take their temperature every morning.

“Our nurses are vital, and they’re even more vital in the COVID era ... We will contact trace, and they will help us make decisions on who needs to quarantine and who does not,” Victor Lamas, director of lower school and the assistant head of school for academics, said.

Over at Roanoke County Public Schools, faculty and staff have worked out a hybrid plan for students to be in class some days and home the others. Throughout this time, school nurses will be tasked with assessing students for COVID and giving advice on what to do if there is a case.

“They’re our point people for each school. So anytime there is a sick staff member or a sick child, that the parent and staff member is going to call the school and notify the administration and that information goes straight to the nurse,” Rhonda Stegall, executive director of administration for Roanoke County Public Schools, said.

The nurses will speak with the Virginia Department of Health to decide what to do next.

“We could not go without school nurses, it’s just not possible. They’re very valuable, and they’re going to be pushed this year, they’ve got a lot on their plate,” Stegall said.

Nurses will also take kids’ temperatures every morning and bring students to isolation rooms if they show symptoms, until the parents can arrive.

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