Pre-Covid-19, Troy Community School District 30-C’s nurses tended to the medical needs of students in the district’s seven schools, maintained immunization records, conducted state-mandated hearing and vision screenings, and a lot more.
Today, they still serve those needs, but also have many additional responsibilities involving Covid-19 screenings and testings, vaccinations and mitigation strategies.
Sandy Smith is a nurse at Troy Middle School and the District Nurse Coordinator. She says school districts have been relying more than ever on their nursing staff, as they use their critical thinking skills 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 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 district’s nurses have also volunteered to assist with the administration of vaccines through county health departments. Offering the vaccine to staff, Smith explained, is another line of protection for Troy schools and for the community in general.
“Safety is a top priority at Troy,” Smith said. “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.”
Their pandemic-related responsibilities are on top of their other duties, such as basic medical care, dispensing medications, maintaining medical records, monitoring diabetic students, communicating with parents and physicians, assisting students in the restroom, and educating students and staff about health issues, such as good nutrition and sleep.
“If a student is not feeling well, either physically or emotionally,” Smith said, “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.”