RALEIGH, N.C. -- Many school nurses serve one to two schools here in North Carolina, but others might serve as many as three to four.
With kids heading back to school during a pandemic, the need for school nurses may be even more noticeable.
At the Wake County Health Department in Raleigh, the program manager for school nurses for the state's largest school system is readying for the school year. Jill Clark is a school nurse herself and says this year will clearly be different for folks in the medical field.
“I think school nurses will be there to provide staff students and parents education on COVID-19,” she saidl
For nurses, a large part of their job is delegation of healthcare responsibility to school staff. This delegation has to happen, because the nurse won't always be there.
“Right now, less than half of the school districts have a nurse in their school everyday,” said Michelle Hughes, the executive director of NC Child.
NC Child, which advocates for children, has been fighting for school nurse funding for years. This group points out that nurses help prevent school violence, allow teachers to stay focused on education, and ultimately could save school systems money.
“If we had put a nurse in every school, it would require about 1,400 more nurses and it would probably be around $92 million,” said Rep. Donna White, a Republican from Johnston County.
Rep. White is a nurse by trade. She has proposed funding to get a nurse in every school, a bill that has gotten stuck in the legislative process. She says the value of the school nurse is going to be especially apparent this fall as many students won't have that nurse available.
“What do parents do that are having to work, and parents who may not have appropriate hour childcare,” asks White. “Who is going to be giving those meds and and who is going to monitoring that child for those chronic illnesses and allergies and all of those things that we mentioned earlier?”
Just this week, Gov. Roy Cooper directed about $40 million of emergency funding towards school nurses, counselors, and social workers.