HSD nurses mobilize to meet the challenge during the pandemic

Hollister School District accredited school nurses, as well as health clerks at individual school sites, have been particularly busy during the pandemic.

The following information was provided by the Hollister School District.

Hollister School District Nurses the roles have changed a lot over the years, but even more dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

Nowadays, school nurses who oversee health matters for the district spend a lot of time troubleshooting COVID-19 issues while continuing to take on other duties that were already on their plates before the pandemic.

This broad job base underscores how much the school nurse position, which reports to the student services department of the district office, has changed. These responsibilities may include the following, among a plethora of other duties:

  • Case management of students with mild to severe health needs
  • Training of health auxiliaries who cover the health office
  • Train school staff for students who need specialized health care procedures
  • Management of asthma, diabetes and seizures
  • Vaccinations
  • Visual and hearing screenings
  • Oral and Child Health and Disability Prevention Programs
  • Emergency care

While certified school nurse Miranda Eyster noted that asthma has always been the most common diagnosis among students, she pointed out that COVID-19 has forced a shift in priorities.

“We spend, I would say, the majority of our time dealing with COVID issues,” said Eyster, health needs manager at Sunnyslope, Maze and Rancho Santana schools.

Certified school nurse Anita Sarringhaus explained how nurses train staff and oversee care, while site health workers provide that care. She stressed that the health of students and the prevention of childhood illnesses are top priorities.

“Our mantra is that healthy children learn better,” she said. “Our goal is to maximize the learning potential of students by meeting their health needs in school.

This year, the district added a third certified school nurse – to accompany health clerks at each school site – to help cope with the workload. Previously, Eyster and Sarringhaus each oversaw four to five sites. Now each covers three sites. New nurse Alane Warren has a wealth of special education knowledge. She will cover tasks at Ladd Lane, Rancho San Justo and RO Hardin schools.

Eyster recalled the impacts caused at different stages of the pandemic. She remembered “uncharted territory” with students at home for the first year or so.

“Our role changed a lot because a lot of what we normally do we couldn’t do anymore,” Eyster said.

Emphasis was placed on helping school site staff and district office workers as well as “lots of contact tracing.” They also worked with the nutrition department to make sure families received meals and even helped a homeless family raise funds to fund a hotel room and meals.

Before the students returned to campus, nurses also did extensive preparation by reviewing California Department of Public Health and OSHA guidelines that are more restrictive than the school guidelines, said. Eyster.

She noted that between last April and the start of the 2021-22 school year, protocols changed based on evolving guidelines. Last spring, a classroom was reportedly closed with a positive case. Now, that doesn’t necessarily happen. The HIV-positive student should self-quarantine. But students in the class – who were exposed while wearing masks – are allowed to continue attending as long as they quarantine themselves from all extracurricular activities, remain asymptomatic, and test twice during quarantine. amended by 10 days.

Sarringhaus said the updated state guidelines helped the district avoid absences after the long period of distance and hybrid learning. she supervises Cerra Vista, Hollister Dual Language Academy, and Calaveras / Accelerated Achievement Academy.

“It allows us to keep children in school safe, which is our # 1 priority,” she said.

Much of this effort comes from health clerks in individual schools. While nurses are required to have a bachelor’s degree, public health nursing license, and diploma, clerks range from those with a medical history to “moms” who find their way into these roles because they enjoy the job. said Sarringhaus.

“‘Since there are only three of us, in a district of 5,700 students, we could not do our job without our health aides,” she said. “They take care of our students every day and alert us when they have concerns. We then take that information and act on it. “

While Sarringhaus has been a district nurse for 15 years, Eyster started in 2013 as a contract nurse helping students with diabetes.

“I loved being in a school environment, being around students and getting to know them,” Eyster said. “It’s a little different every day. It is never stale. There is always something new to learn.

COVID-19 continues to create challenges with more students on campus this year, she said.

“There seems to be this feeling of stress or fear or worry that everyone has when it comes to COVID,” she said. “We are constantly changing their feelings by telling them that everything will be fine. ”

Assistant Superintendent Kip Ward said that with all that was going on, the three nurses handled “incredible amounts of work” under pressure.

“I have so much respect and appreciation for what they experience and manage on a daily basis,” Ward said.

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Norma A. Roth