School nurse shortage poses new challenge amid pandemic

School nurse shortage poses new challenge amid pandemic

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, one position at schools is proving to be more important than ever before.

But there’s still a significant shortage in school nurses across the country, including right here in southern Arizona.

For the Marana Unified School District, things are going relatively well.

MUSD has one health assistant at each school and eight registered nurses on hand to help.

That’s much better than 40% of schools across the country that don’t even have one full-time nurse.

It’s also helpful that the COVID-19 guidelines they’ve put in place are similar to what nurses have been preaching for years.

  • Wash your hands.
  • Don’t touch others.
  • Clean up after yourself.

This message is more vital than ever before, and so far, with students back on campus, things are going well.

The hard part is that on top of their normal duties of administering medications and tending to injuries, nurses now must screen for any COVID symptoms, follow all the latest updates, and decide when kids should stay in school.

It’s a lot of work, but even in the business, Director of Health Services Nicole Pargas said they’re ready for any cases that could pop up.

“A big thing is also just the communications piece of people understanding the importance of wearing a mask, and the importance of social distancing and staying home when you’re sick. Gone are the days of powering through the school day or the workday when you’re sick. That’s very risky right now,” Pargas said.

Pargas added that MUSD has lots of PPE on hand if needed. Nurses have also created isolation areas for students who may be showing COVID symptoms.

They’re doing their part, but they say it’s important everyone continues to follow the protocols.

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