By Heather Legg
We all know we are in tough economic times and some things need to be cut back. We need to look carefully while doing so, though, and not cut out the critical things, like school nurses. Georgia Governor Perdue has proposed to eliminate all state funding for professional school nurses in Georgia. This just can’t happen!
I sort of remember a nurse when I was in elementary school, but only vaguely. I now know the school nurse at our elementary school, and I the respect I hold for her is unmatchable. When I think of all the kids at school with medication, be it for epilepsy or ADHD or allergies, and how she keeps it all in order, I am amazed. She is the one to call when something expires, like your Epipen (and keeps calling until you get it in there). She is the one the kids go to with bloody noses or when they throw up in class or fall on the background. There are over 800 kids in our elementary school and many of them have chronic conditions, like allergies, asthma, ADHD, and many of them just need the nurse. When my younger daughter broke her arm last year after school on the playground, the nurse came out to help before I could even get anyone.
Our nurse has trained me on an Epipen and written informative pieces for our newsletter about allergies as well as those other elementary ailments like lice and the flu. She offers good advice and with her calm demeanor is someone kids and parents can both trust. She is the one to pack up the medication and Epipens to go on field trips with the kids, and when my daughter had a field trip where they only walked across the street for a couple of hours to study a stream, our nurse called me to check to see if she needed to send the Epipen along. She thinks about all of this as much as the parents do. Each year she personally writes a letter to any class that has a child with allergies describing allergies, the dangers and the precautions to take.
Our school nurse is invaluable and I can’t imagine the school running as smoothly without her. I envision kids throwing up in the hall, teachers mishandling Epipens, flu running rampant. Probably the scenario wouldn’t be that bad, but she sure does keep it control, while making me, as a parent, more confident in my children’s safety.
I thought maybe they could do half-day nurses, but no, they can’t even cut their hours. Kids are taking medication throughout the day, and you can’t schedule emergencies like you can a conference. Allergic reactions don’t wait for confirmation from both parties before they show up. Our nurse is an important asset to our school and I guess what I need to do is to send this blog to our legislatures and let them know that school nurses are not an extraneous part of the budget. Keep them!