Professionals in the healthcare sector are leading the front line efforts towards caring for patients with confirmed and possible infection from COVID 19. The virus is reaching a lot of people, and healthcare professionals are requesting communities to help them contain the disease by staying at home.
Governments too are closing monitoring the situation. Governors are directing citizens in their state to combat the disease by staying at home as much as possible, practicing healthy hygiene practices and following social distancing when outside. They have also directed community centers and non-essential businesses to stop functions until notice.
They have shut down schools as a means to prevent the virus from spreading. And here, school nurses can here play a role. You can keep tabs on whether students and communities are following healthy preventive practices and government directions to prevent the virus from spreading.
While caring for the community, school nurses must at all times ensure that you:
- Encourage your staff as well as members in your community to protect their personal health.
- Extensively share verified information about the signs of COVID 19 and increase awareness among members in the community.
- Encourage sick people to stay at home and take care of themselves.
- Improve awareness about the importance of constantly cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched – like shared desks, counter tops and door knobs
- Stress on the importance on setting limits for social gatherings
- Stay updated on what’s happening in your community
- Be prepared with an emergency plan for a possible outbreak
- Assess the health status of members within the community.
However, in case of an outbreak in your community, it is advised that you do what it takes to avoid panic and take the following actions:
- If you’re informed that a member in your community is sick, send them home or take steps to separate them from their community.
- If you identify a case of illness, immediately take steps to notify others who could be in close contact with the ill person.
- Disinfect the person’s home and premises regularly.
- Stay in touch with the local health department to pass on necessary information in time.
- Urge communities to cancel all meetings and events.
- Put a disease outbreak plan in action.
There is much that school nurses can do to build awareness about how the people must prepare themselves for COVID 19 and these are some best practices for school nurses:
- Keeping yourselves updated on information from reputable sources like the CDC, and state and county health agencies
School nurses can play an important role in keeping track of local cases and states where COVID 19 is present. By learning and share this information with parents, you can position yourself as a source of most accurate and up-to-date information on how the virus is spreading and what are the measures that people must take to protect themselves and stop the spread.
- Keep in touch with local health departments
School nurses can be in touch with the school district liaison officer, who is a source of the most updated health information from local and state agencies. You can pass on information such as educational campaigns, letters carrying necessary information to parents and guardians, adjustments to district cleaning schedules as well as decisions to close one or more schools made by administrators.
- Review communicable disease plan
School nurses can also review the district’s communicable disease plan and make changes as applicable to reflect the current health crisis that’s unfolding. Nurses must provide input and update sections of the district’s emergency plan on pandemics and biological incidents. They must also consider district-wide first aid requirements and on managing shelters and mass care facilities in the review plan.
- Help staff and students in understanding medical information
Nurses can help translate difficult medical lingo and directives into easy-to-understand language for administrators, principals, parents and students. They can even collaborate with physical education and private classroom teachers on how to make the information grade-appropriate for students’ consumption.
- Answer health-related questions from parents and staff
Understanding the information that school districts send home could be difficult for parents. Here, schools nurses can act as a liaison to answer what the message means and how it impacts children based on their medical histories. They can even address social issues like social distancing and offer necessary information and guidance.
- Popularize good prevention practices
School nurses can run demonstrations, particularly for younger students, on how to wash their hands properly, how to cough into their elbows and other preventive steps like social distancing to stop respiratory as well as other communicable illnesses from spreading.
- Medication supply coordination
School nurses can coordinate with school administration and families to determine how medication supplies can be picked up from school for use at home.
As for what nurses must not be doing now:
- Spreading false information: School nurses must rely only on legitimate sources for information, as parents and staff depend on you to get the right information.
- Don’t check temperature randomly: Random temperate checks would be ineffective as it captures the child’s temperature at just one moment in time. But, if students come to the nurses’ office with other symptoms, school nurses can check their temperature.
Eduhealth and COVID 19
Eduheath can be a great tool in monitoring student health and helping nurses keep track on each student’s status. They can even be a great tool for communicating guidelines and educating parents in a go, keeping the community updated and safe from wrong information and viruses as well.
As the whole world fights the deadly COVID 19 together, school nurses in the US have an integral role to play in building awareness among children and their communities about how to be prepared for these trying times. You must educate people about staying home and social distancing as a means to avoid getting infected. And in this way do your part in sharing the right information and safeguarding your community.