School nurses navigate staffing, COVID-19 challenges during pandemic

school nurse
Posted at 10:08 AM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 11:08:53-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — School nurses across the country have been on the front lines this fall as students returned to school during the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, about 25% of schools nationwide didn’t have a school nurse. That staffing situation hasn’t been made easier during the pandemic.

National Association of School Nurses president Linda Mondonca said more nurses have left for various reasons during the pandemic.

“They are overwhelmed,” Mondonca said. “They started the school year a little tired like all teachers, and so it’s been hard with the protocols and quarantining and dealing with parents that are maybe not as understanding, so school nurses have taken a lot of verbal abuse.”

School districts do have the option of using money from the American Rescue Plan approved by Congress to hire additional school nurses, though not all school districts are taking advantage of the option.

The Nurse Act, which was recently introduced in Congress, would create a grant program at the Department of Education that would reduce the cost of hiring nurses in public schools located in lower income areas.

That could help some schools address shortages, but may not address the strain many nurses are feeling.