School districts across the country are preparing to reopen for in-person classes with social distancing, mask guidelines and temperatures checks.
Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools and the York County School Division have opted for virtual learning for the first nine weeks of school due to the coronavirus.
But neither school division plans to hire more nurses once school reopens.
But should they?
WYDaily asked how each division how many school nurses were employed, if each school had a nurse on site and if the district planned on hiring additional nurses.
YCSD spokeswoman Katherine Goff wrote in an email each school has a nurse on staff — 19 in total — and the division’s health services coordinator is also a nurse.
“The division is not hiring additional nurses as we have one at each school,” she said. “In accordance with state law, additional staff members at each building are certified in various emergency and first aid responses, CPR, administration of medication, etc.”
Similar to York County, WJCC also has a nurse at each school, WJCC spokeswoman Eileen Cox wrote in an email.
There is also one nurse who is “available to provide support to any school as needed” and the district’s supervisor of health services is also a nurse.
“At this time there are no plans to hire additional nursing staff,” Cox added.
Does the district plan to test students before they start classes in September? If so, how will they ensure accurate testing?
As for testing, neither YCSD or WJCC will test their students or staff.
“Rather the division will be implementing screening protocols – such as daily temperature checks at home for students and staff,” Goff wrote. “Temperature checks at school will occur when staff or students are symptomatic or suspected.”
The division’s Return to School and Health plan for the 2020-2021 school year was approved by the state, she noted.
Goff said all students, parents, guardians and employees are “encouraged” to stay home if they fall into the following categories: having symptoms of COVID-19; waiting for test results, or if they have recently been in contact with someone who tested positive.
“Student and staff members who begin to feel unwell while on premises must see the school nurse for assessment,” she wrote. “If the student has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, or any of the COVID-19 related symptoms are evident upon assessment, the nurse will take appropriate steps as outlined in the Return to School plan.”
“To reduce unnecessary visits to the clinic, additional first aid kits will be provided to all teachers and teachers will be conducting hourly checks on students,” she added.
Cox sent WYDaily the division’s WJCC Health Services Mitigation Guidelines in an email.
She said WJCC staff members will complete a “health self-assessment” before going inside a school building and parents are “asked” to check students daily before sending them to school.
“A symptom checklist will be provided to families and staff,” she wrote. “It is an appendix item in the health plan.”
The checklist consists of 12 questions and focuses primarily on the student’s symptoms such as if the person has a fever above 100 degrees, if the person has new congestion or a runny nose or a new onset sore throat, according to the checklist.
“If you respond NO to all questions, your child may come to school,” according to the WJCC student symptom checker sheet. “If you respond YES to any questions, he/she may not come to school.”
“Your child should stay home until well and/or cleared by a doctor to return to school.”
Other items in the guidelines sent show different steps if someone test positive.
If the school finds out someone tests positive for the virus, the nurse or “administrator” will tell the health services supervisor who will then contact the Peninsula Health District to start a “public health investigation,” according to the document.
Then, health services will work with the superintendent and contact operations to start “cleaning procedures.”
But the decision on which students or staff members should be sent home “may be determined in conjunctions with PHD and division staff.”
“PHD recommendations for scope, e.g. a single class, single school, multiple school, or full district, and duration of school dismissals will be made on a case-by-case basis using the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the specific cases in our community,” according to the document. “The duration of time to remain home may also be determined by PHD.”
Other actions include a possible, short-term dismissal of the schools to get a “better understanding” of the situation.
“Upon recommendation of PHD, WJCC will communicate with families and staff of the impacted school(s) regarding investigation and notification of possible quarantine,” the WJCC guidelines noted. “Those individuals who were exposed to a person with COVID-19 (less that 6 feet of space for more that 15 minutes) will be informed to stay home per CDC guidelines, self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.”
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