School nurses ask for funding as they prepare for school return

Posted at 11:27 AM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 12:27:26-04

Mary Lisa Fanning is the Belton High School Nurse and is working to keep every single student safe.

"We are all in this together," she said.

Her school's health safety plan includes personal protection equipment (PPE) for all classrooms, including masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer. If a student's own mask breaks, they'll have back-ups, and hand washing will be essential for staff and students.

"Our clinics will be very safe for students who come in for routine visits or mediation. We will have a spot for them, and then we'll have a spot for students who think they might have symptoms of COVID, where we can assess them safely without mixing the two groups," said Fanning.

Laurie Combe, the President of the National Association of School Nurses, says this isn't the first pandemic or outbreak school nurses have experienced, including the detection of the first US case of H1N1.

"We are sentinels for student health and the entire school health," said Combe.

Sometimes a school nurse is the only health care provider a child may have access to, which Combe says can be especially true for immigrant children. The NASN asked the federal government for $208 billion to help meet the financial needs for keeping students safe nationwide.

"We're going to need more money for PPE. My colleagues are saying TEA provided PPE, but it isn't enough for the entire year, and they haven't supplied N95's as school nurses know there is a certain set of students who may require interventions that are aerosol generating procedures," said Combe.

But school nurses say they are ready for the challenge.

"We would love parents to know we are doing everything we can think of to make sure everyone is safe," said Fanning.