school nurse in classroom

Caring for communities and students during COVID 19: What school nurses must know

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.

Is Your School Prepared for a Coronavirus Outbreak?

It’s time for schools in the US to prepare themselves to counter a possible corona virus outbreak.  State and local educational agencies must start collaborating with health agencies to understand the nature of the spread, understand critical information about the disease and focus on what needs to be done to prevent its introduction into communities.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has brought out interim guidance based on what’s currently known about the nature of the corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It has also specially mentioned the roles schools can play in disseminating information about COVID -19 and its potential transmission with the school community.    While health officials have the responsibility to take all measures to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus in communities across the US, schools must continue to collaborate, share information, and even review plans with local health officials to help protect the whole school community.    Should school administrators be worried about COVID-19? COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel virus. Concerns have been raised about the outbreak in the US and the repercussions if communities are affected. Imported cases of the disease have been found in the US, forcing communities, like schools, to go on high alert to counter its spreading.    How can schools prevent it? To prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 – about which not much is known and no vaccine found – students, teachers, parents, and school administrators must avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it.  Stopping transmission through everyday practices has been suggested as one of the best ways to keep everyone healthy and ensure students have safe and healthy learning environments.  There are several measures that schools can take to prepare themselves for an outbreak. Develop an outbreak response/pandemic plan, if there isn’t one. Review and update the existing plan and share it with stakeholders. Organize training sessions to sensitize staff or members on preventive measures. Prepare for potential school closures, dismissals or cancellation of school events. Prepare to offer home instruction to students. Get in touch with local public health officials and identify points of contact. Prepare processes to send back home students and staff who become sick at school or arrive at school sick. Put in place an emergency communication plan and maintain up-to-date contact information for everyone in your communication chain. Form a leadership team, identify essential staff functions, assign tasks and responsibilities. Continue to monitor current information from health officials.   How can school nurses pitch in?  Nurses in school districts have an integral role to play. They’ve to sensitize students about the disease, and also dispel the fear that students may have developed towards it.    They can do this by urging students to adopt healthy everyday preventive practices like:  Avoiding contact with sick people Not touching eyes, nose and mouth  Staying at home if sick Using tissues while sneezing and discarding them after a single use Using disinfectants Using face-masks Washing hands with soap and water Using hand sanitizers   Nurses must also establish communication with parents to regularly check-in on ill students. They should also inform parents when a child falls ill while at school and take immediate next steps. They should keep tabs on students who have traveled to affected countries and coordinate with parents and the health department on when the student can re-enter the school. Nurses also need to maintain constant contact with doctors, other health workers as well as pharmacies to communicate emergencies and ensure that healthcare of their schools is well taken of.  They must organize cleanliness drives, lead the establishment of preventive practices, and maintain up-to-date information and documentation on the status of the health of students as well as teachers.  It is also important for them to update themselves on the latest measures that schools need to take to safeguard the health of students and communities.    How can Eduhealth help? Nurses are the primary point of care for students in school districts and they need to be proactively involved in countering the spread of the disease.  A tool like Eduhealth will help nurses carefully monitor students’ health by managing documentation and communication on one single platform.  Nurses will be able to update students’ health information on their profiles and pass on messages to parents, doctors or healthcare workers.  With Eduhealth, nurses will be able to stay on top of their students’ healthcare requirements and ensure the right steps are taken to effectively protect their schools and communities against attacks from deadly viruses.