Back in school, you’ll have bandages, bumps, and bruises.
But it also meets students’ needs for sensory challenges, chronic illnesses like diabetes and food allergies, emotional needs like anxiety and depression, and fighting infectious diseases, including COVID.
Wicked Local reached out to school nurses to ask for their thoughts on what families need to know for the 2022-2023 school year.
School nurses need up-to-date information about student needs, including medical conditions, changes in the home, and other factors that may affect learning ability and wellness.
“School nurses should really know about medical, emotional, or behavioral problems,” said Barbara Conley, director of nursing for the Burlington School District.
more:What vaccinations are required to attend school in Massachusetts? Find out here
The district’s medical services team includes 15 registered nurses, medical assistants and certified nursing assistants, and managed medical assistants. Nursing staff are expected to serve her 3,600 students this year.
“We need to know their children. It will really help them grow. If you don’t know what’s going on with their children, you can’t do that. Healthy children learn.” Conley said.
“If there are any changes in your child’s health, please let us know,” said Elizabeth Quaratiero, director of school health services for Somerville School District. , and nurse managers ready to serve an expected student population of 4,700.
“If it’s an asthma diagnosis, a life-threatening illness, or a diabetes diagnosis, it’s very important to tell the school nurse,” Quaratiello said.
“Safety is a top priority all year round, especially at the beginning of the year,” said Sarah Bolduc, a nurse at Lexington’s Minuteman High School.
Technical school districts serve Lexington, Acton, Arlington, Bolton, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Needham, and Stowe. Bolduc and her fellow registered nurse, Annie Quill, serve nearly 700 students and her 20 preschoolers as part of the school’s early childhood program.
A nurse is always available, so please feel free to contact us.
“Make sure you have an action plan filed for physical exams, vaccinations, diabetes and other conditions,” Bolduc said.
“Be sure to communicate with the school nurse about any medication or issues with your child,” said Joanne Chadwick, director of health and nursing for grades 7-12 at Acton Boxborough School District.
Chadwick works with Diane Spring, the pre-K-6 nurse leader. The district has her 11 registered nurses covering her nine clinical centers within the district, serving approximately 6,000 students.
more:Pads and tampons are not available to many students. How two students are trying to change that
more:New boosters could help Massachusetts fight COVID variant
“Make sure your records are up to date throughout the school year. Stay up to date on any health issues that come with changes. If anything changes in your family, please let us know.” ‘ said Chadwick.
According to nurses, schools are becoming increasingly diverse, with nurses serving students from diverse cultural backgrounds and students with myriad health needs. Nurses urged all families to reach out to keep nurses informed of factors that can affect a child’s health, behavior and success in school.
Nurses can also help connect families with resources, such as insurance answers and access to immunizations.
“We are assessing our students for special services and offer mandatory visual, auditory and hearing screenings. [body-mass index.] Another important aspect is helping families access health insurance and long-term care services, and assisting new residents with MassHealth support if they need it,” Conley added.
Vaccinate children against COVID and keep them at home if sick
The state does not require students to get the COVID vaccine, but school nurses are urging parents to vaccinate their children and understand that COVID will not go away.
“COVID-19 is still an issue,” said Bolduc. “It’s been the biggest change and continues to be a big part of our day-to-day.”
Although the state has suspended COVID testing programs and contact tracing, nurses say testing and reporting of results remain critical.
“Just because you’re COVID negative doesn’t mean you should come to school.” rice field.
“If you’re not sure if you need to stay home, call your nurse. If you have questions about when you should be back, call your nurse,” Quaratiello said. “The child may feel better, have tested negative, and be fully ready to come back.”
Communicate about allergies, medications
School nurses still provide many traditional services, such as treating students for cuts and falls. However, students are coming to school with more complex needs.
“We have children who need walkers, wheelchairs, braces, aids to help them move and move. We have children with feeding tubes, feeding problems and food allergies. ‘ said Quaratiello.
Many allergies can affect children, but food allergy concerns predominate in schools.
“I think about 6-7% of our students have been diagnosed with life-threatening allergies, which is a big part of our student base,” says Quaratiello. “This puts a lot of restrictions on what kids can eat and who needs to have an EpiPen.”
An important part is communication with the entire school staff.
“If kids come in often and say, ‘I need to go to the nurse,’ they know what’s going on — about administering medication, monitoring medication,” Conley said. rice field.
Skipping school may mean students need mental or emotional help
According to nurses, more children are exhibiting behaviors suggestive of needs related to anxiety, depression, and sensory conditions such as those on the autism spectrum.
“I think we’re seeing an increase in the number of kids with anxiety. For some kids, it’s really a roadblock,” Quaratiello said. I don’t think I’ve seen that much.”
“I think nurses need to develop more skills and anxiety-reducing strategies that aren’t necessarily the role of school nurses,” Conley said.