‘COVID-19 has changed every aspect of school nursing’

Troy nurses expand their roles during the pandemic

Before the pandemic, nurses at Troy Community School District 30 focused on the medical needs of students in the district’s seven schools.

They maintained immunization and medical records, conducted state-mandated hearing and vision screenings, dispensed medications, monitored diabetic students, communicated with parents and physicians, assisted students in the restroom, and educated students and staff about health issues, such as good nutrition and sleep, a news release from the district said.

Responsibilities today include COVID-19 screenings and testings, vaccinations and mitigation strategies.

In a news release form the district, Sandy Smith, a nurse at Troy Middle School and the district nurse coordinator, said school districts are also relying on the critical thinking skills of their nursing staff to maintain the strict guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“COVID-19 has changed every aspect of school nursing,” Smith said in the release. “In addition to our normal daily work, we monitor our students and staff for positive COVID tests and symptoms, and we obtain contact tracing information when necessary. We also spend time educating families and staff on current CDC and IDPH health guidelines.”

Through their collaboration with the Will County Health Department, Troy nurses also have been trained to perform rapid Covid-19 tests on students and staff who develop symptoms at school, the release also said.

The district’s nurses have also volunteered to assist with the administration of vaccines through county health departments, the release said.

Offering the vaccine to staff is another line of protection for Troy schools and for the community in general, Smith said in the release.

“Safety is a top priority at Troy,” Smith said in the release. “From a nursing standpoint, the district has done an outstanding job at ensuring everyone’s safety when they are in the buildings. The district has implemented daily self-certifying for both staff and students, has supplied staff with PPE, has installed new HVAC filtration system, has created isolation rooms for symptomatic individuals and strictly follows IDPH and CDC guidelines.”

But Smith feels all the efforts are worth it.

“If a student is not feeling well, either physically or emotionally,” Smith said in the release, “they are not going to be effective learners. Troy school nurses strive to give the best possible care to students to help them reach their educational goals.”