Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Why Are We Playing Roulette with the Lives of U.S. School Children?

What if your child was diabetic, asthmatic or had a life threatening allergy? Would you be comfortable sending him or her to school knowing there was a school nurse on campus only one day a week? About 10% of students have one of these three conditions. This means 30% of our children are in danger of having a life threatening event while at school.

What about being injured playing sports, running into a pole head first (I’ve witnessed this one.), or attempting suicide? Two weeks into the new school year, (true story) one of my First Period French I students asked to go to the nurse’s office because she was feeling faint. I wouldn’t allow her to go alone, since she could pass out while on the way. I called the nurse who said she would bring a wheelchair.

A moment after I hung up the phone, the student sitting next to the girl who was dizzy whispered in my ear, “She told me she took several of her mother’s sleeping pills before school.” I called the nurse back. She phoned the paramedics and ran to my classroom with the wheelchair. On the way back to her office, the student “coded”. The nurse kept her alive until paramedics arrived and took over. Without the nurse, it would have been her French teacher trying to keep her alive. Which would you prefer?

Teachers are on strike or have protested all over the country lately. One of the main issues is the current lack of support staff in schools, especially school nurses. Every school I ever attended had a full time school nurse and a trained adult aide. I know they saved lives. They took care of the sick and injured, referred students to outside medical help, and performed many medical tests, such as vision. When I was little, I remember lining up with my class at the nurse’s office to receive vaccines. It's not like that anymore. Full-time school nurses are a rarity.

Schools are underfunded and make cuts where they can. States and the Federal Government are putting our money elsewhere. Only voters can make them protect our students by demanding a full time nurse on every school campus. The Senate has stalled a bill that could help some schools. It’s for Title I schools. It’s called NURSE, Nurses for Under-Resourced Schools Everywhere. It’s not going to solve the problem in every school, but would cover 46,969 schools nationwide. That’s a start.

You can contact your senator and ask him/her to support this bill by clicking here: U.S. Senate.

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