Does your kid’s school have a nurse?

A quarter of public schools across the U.S. did not have a school nurse before the pandemic started.
School nurses fully staffed this year, but what about next?
Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 6:41 PM EST
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MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) - A quarter of public schools across the U.S. did not have a school nurse before the pandemic started.

And more school nurses are leaving the industry, due to low wages and fewer faculty for nursing programs to train the next generation. That, according to the Executive Director, Donna Mazyck, of the National Association of School Nurses.

Thankfully, in East Tennessee this isn’t an issue.

“It’s wonderful to know that in East Tennessee there is the support, because ultimately school nursing services mean access for students to health care in schools,” said Mazyck.

School nurse services vary across and within states, but in East Tennessee many school systems are fully staffed.

The Hamblen County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Perry, said there is a nurse at each of their 18 schools across elementary, middle and high.

“We could not do it without them,” explained Perry, “They have just proven to be a tremendous asset.”

They also hired a floating nurse that goes between schools in case there is a nurse off.

He believed some of the high demand of hospitals or doctors’ offices may have allowed nurses to pursue working in schools instead.

“I think that we owe a great deal to our nurses for every ounce of service they have provided this year. Because truly they have made the difference, in the lives of a lot of students and helped us remain open,” explained Perry.

The school nurse-student ratio in Tennessee is one nurse for every 3,000 students.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends one nurse for every 750 students.

“Students need health services as an access for them to be able to be ready to learn,” said Mazyck.

In addition to Hamblen County Schools, these school systems reported being fully staffed with nurses:

  • Alcoa City Schools
  • Anderson County Schools
  • Blount County Schools
  • Grainger County Schools
  • Jefferson County Schools
  • Knox County Schools
  • Loudon County Schools
  • Maryville City Schools
  • Morgan County Schools
  • Oak Ridge Schools
  • Sevier County Schools
  • Union County Schools

The woman who oversees Coordinated School Health in Alcoa City Schools said she worries about losing nurses next school year.

That’s because there’s a grant from the CDC that allows Alcoa City Schools to employ nurses in each school for COVID testing.

There’s no guarantee how long that grant will last.

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