School Nurse Day 2020: Supporting Students and the Community in Times of Crisis

The morning bell was about to ring at Lovinggood Middle School last September when a student was stung by a wasp in the hallway. Less than 15 minutes later, the student was on the floor of the school clinic suffering from a severe allergic reaction. His throat was closing up. One of the heroes who had already stepped in calmly and quickly to save the student’s life was Patricia Sanders, the Lovinggood school nurse.  

Those are the types of life-saving actions nurses in Cobb Schools make throughout the school year. 

National School Nurse Day is May 6 and is a time to recognize school nurses and their role to improve the health, safety, and academic success of all students.  

Cobb nurses are often recognized as their school’s Certified Employee of the Year including Maureen Jardin, Cheatham Hill Elementary School, and Becky Slade, McCleskey Middle School, for 2020.  

Before the first case of COVID-19 was reported overseas, school nurses were already stressing the importance of proper handwashing. In fact, Murdock Elementary School’s Susan Murphy collaborated directly with the CDC to spotlight Global Handwashing Day.  

School nurses like Pope High School’s Jeannie Jankowski, understand the importance of peer support, which is why she sponsors Pope’s student club called BOND or Being Optimistic Navigating Diabetes for students with Type I diabetes.  

This year, more than ever, all members of the school communities, school nurses included, have been required to take on unprecedented roles and adapt quickly to changes in their jobs. It is reflective of the significant roles school nurses have in the health care of their school communities to help make a healthier place for children and families to learn and grow during this crisis. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the essential school nurse role. Whether we are physically present in our health offices or working virtually to support our students, the role of school nurses in public health, in policy development, in care coordination and education is essential,” said National Association of School Nurses President Laurie Combe, MN, RN, NCSN. “A professional school nurse is needed for every school because school nursing is the foundation for student physical and mental health.” 

Cobb’s school nurses may not be caring for students inside a school clinic or rushing to the aid of an injured child on the playground, but they are still focused on the health and well-being of their students and families.  

Cobb Schools’ nursing staff is in ongoing communication with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to trace reports of COVID-19 and help distribute public health guidance and updates from the DPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to continuing to educate students, parents, and staff members virtually on how to stay healthy and prevent the spread of diseases, Cobb’s team of nurses also volunteer to distribute food to those in need, sew masks for family and friends, donate blood, donate to emergency funds for college students, foster animals, and much more.  

Cobb nurses are continuing their professional development, so they are ready to welcome students back safely when school buildings reopen. Plus, they stay updated on the latest health news by participating in weekly Cobb and Douglas Public Health calls. Many nurses have also found other ways to extend their nursing skills to help those in need in the community.  

Take a moment to email your school nurse to say, “thank you” for all that they do for students, staff, and the entire community.