School Health is No Summer Vacation
The role of the professional school nurse is usually viewed in the eyes of the typical school year calendar, but student health needs do not disappear during the summer. Not all school nurses (RN’s) work year-round, but those who do are very busy.
Recent funding in the 2017-18 budget by Guilford County Commissioners adds five new year-round School Health Registered Nurse positions. In the recent past, only three nursing supervisors and three staff nurses have worked in the summer. The remainder (30 nurses) work 10 months per year: mid-August to mid-June.
In lieu of year-round schools, Guilford County Board of Education operates by using extended year calendars. This requires services from the School Health Nurses throughout the summer months as well as in the traditional school calendar months.
- These schools have an extended year schedule that begins in the first or second week in August: 9 middle colleges, 9 elementary, 1 middle, and 2 high school academies
- Additionally, summer school is held at several sites around the county:
22 elementary schools serve over 4,000 students in grades 1-3 and
20 middle schools and 15 high schools provide classes via virtual camps with
some on site attendance.
Summer school and extended year students have the same health needs as any other time in the school year – chronic health conditions such as diabetes and asthma requiring daily and as needed medication at school, potential emergency conditions such as severe bee stings and food allergies, episodic illness, mental health concerns, and need for case management.
Four percent of students in summer school are known to have had chronic illness that was identified during the regular school year. Because illness affects attendance which in turn affects academic achievement, it is especially critical that health issues do not keep these students from “catching up” in the summer.
Activities within the School Health Division during the summer include:
- Continuing to follow students with significant medical needs to ensure that they are under medical care and prepared for the new school year
- Destroying medication left in the schools from the prior year
- Preparing health education classes and presentation boards for the new school year
- Reviewing immunization records and preparing the North Carolina Immunization Registry (NCIR) reports for rising 7th grade students with reminder letters to parents of students who lack documentation that they have received required immunizations
- Reviewing health assessments as the schools receive them and contacting parents if medical needs are identified
- Following up of referrals for vision made during prior school year but not secured
- Attending meetings at school sites for incoming students with medical needs to determine accommodations
- Editing School Health Guidelines and Health forms to prepare for the new school year
- Providing health coverage for all summer school programs; tending to emergencies, obtaining care plans and medication, training staff as needed
- Compiling case management reports from prior year
- Completing school nurse assignments for the new school year
- Opening the Guilford Middle Colleges and other schools that operate on extended calendars – services provided include principal and faculty meetings, care plan and medications retrieval, and teacher and first responders training
- Supervisors summer duties includes the interviewing and hiring of new staff
The additional year-round staff will greatly benefit the Guilford County School students by lowering the number of schools each nurse serves and by providing adequate and continuous services in the summer.
Good Health is necessary for academic success, and nurses make good health happen!
For more information please visit http://www.guilfordcountyprojectone.com/