WACO, TX — Wednesday is National Nurses School Day and over the last year, they have proven how invaluable they are to a school district.
Waco ISD Director of Health Services, Rhiannon Settles, went around to each school gifting the nurses a few of their favorite goodies, thanking them for the work they have so generously given over the last year.
"This year my role shifted, pretty much just to COVID," Settles said.
Between contact tracing, administering COVID-19 tests and vaccines, Settles along with other school nurses have been working around the clock.
When the pandemic began and protocols changed, many looked to their school nurses for answers, Settles says the pandemic proved how a nurse's role is vital to every school.
"I joke that COVID was actually great for school nurses because it shows everybody how important this job is," Settles said.
One of the many nurses who has been working 24/7 is University High School nurse Sheila Jones.
"You want to make sure that you protect everybody," Jones said.
In doing so, she kept her phone on and answered calls all hours of the night. Whether it was a parent or faculty member, Jones was there to help.
"If a parent called or if it was an employee call and they felt like they were having symptoms I would meet them up here, we'd test them and go from there," Jones said.
The most important part was keeping students and faculty safe but in doing so, that meant keeping surrounding community members safe as well.
"Being able to be a resource for information, for COVID testing, for immunizations for whatever it is. Hopefully, we've done a really great job at that and kept our community safer," Settles said.
Usually, there is only one nurse per school so WISD hired a floating nurse to visit schools as extra assistance when work got busy.
WISD has also been able to give comp days to nurses who have worked overtime and increased the budget to pay for hourly nurses working overtime.