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School nurses are more important than ever this school year

The school year is just around the corner, tackling the spread of COVID19 will be the main focus of many school nurses.

Schools are getting closer to kicking off the new school year and with COVID19 on a steady rise again, school nurses have a bigger job than ever. 

School nurses have been preparing all summer to keep students, staff and themselves safe, while also making sure they have all of their positions filled. 

According to SCforEd's research, as of July 24, there were 63 school nurse openings in the state. 

President of the South Carolina School Nurse Association Amanda Santamaria tells News19 that school district communities need to continue to use the nurses they have as a resource. 

"We are a valuable resource to them. School nurses are always great community health partners even pre-pandemic and we continue to be that resource for parents," Santamaria says, "We know that COVID is scary and there are lots of people who are very unsure about this upcoming school year so we would just recommend if they have any questions/concerns about the health of their child or a staff member, reach out to their school nurses, reach out to nurses in their community and rely on them to be those helpful experts and get those resources from them."

Eunice Jones is the coordinator for nursing services at Richland One and says her team is ready to tackle the upcoming school year, "It was a different environment last year but since they have been exposed to that, they're better prepared this year in knowing." 

Jones continues, "so everything was kind of like all of a sudden but now they've had time to rest and come back and say 'ok this is how we're going to begin organizing, this is what we're going to do on this time frame, this is what this looks like.." 

   

"We really consider them a valuable partner," says SC Department of Health and Environmental Control public health director Dr. Brannon Traxler. She says the role of school nurses has amplified in the past year and a half. "Just as we, even pre-pandemic, had a very close relationship with many school nurses across the state, that has been emphasized even more and made even more important over the last year and a half and we plan to continue that with that directional communication with them." 

"A lot of staff, a lot of families, a lot of students have questions. So being that resource to be able to answer those questions or guide them to where they can get those questions answered," Jones adds.

As far as vacancies, the South Carolina Department of Education says, "$5.6 million in additional state funding is available for nurses. Districts have received roughly $3 billion in COVID-19 relief funds that can be used for hiring nurses."