by Bobby Anderson, RN – staff writer/photographer
Without a doubt, when students return to the classroom this fall school will look different than ever before.
CDC guidelines intended to halt the spread of Covid 19 have schools nationwide scrambling to prepare for students in August.
And one local district plans to rely on nurses to help lead the way.
Gyla Davis is the assistant director for support services for Moore Public Schools.
Recently, the district announced it would have either an LPN or RN at each school site for the 2020-21 school year.
The district already has five RNs and will hire 30 LPNs for the fall.
“Coming back to school and not knowing exactly what guidelines are going to look like and how many students are coming back … we just felt in the district it was very important to have a certified medical professional at every site,” Davis said. “The folks that make the decisions in our district knew that was important and would be very important to parents.
“That would make sure there will be a nurse of some ranking at every site all day long.”
The positions are coded as an LPN/Teaching Assistant position to fall under the support personnel umbrella for the district.
Davis confirmed federal funds are not being used for the position.
“I think we would like to see them stay as long as there is a need,” Davis said of the new nurses.
Davis graduated from Moore Public Schools and has worked for the district for nearly 20 years.
She said the plan is a first for one of the largest districts in the state.
“We’ve always had a body of nurses that took care of sites on their assignment lists but I think we’ve come to a place where (staffing each school) is going to be necessary for the health and well-being of our kids,” Davis said.
Daily temperature checks and monitoring signs and symptoms of Covid and other illnesses will be priorities for nurses, Davis said.
“Above and beyond that they will also assist with needs of other students throughout the day – medication, bumps and bruises and injuries and basic triage throughout the school day,” Davis said.
The district announced in June that parents could choose from three options for their child’s instruction for the upcoming year. The traditional option calls for students to attend all their classes in person just like they have always done. The second option is for students to receive half of their instruction online and half in the traditional classroom setting.
The third option allows students to receive all of their instruction online.
And with most school districts ending classroom instruction prior to spring break earlier this year, August will be the first time students have been together in one place since prior to social distancing guidelines.
“If the numbers rise again with Covid a parent can make a decision at any time to switch their track. They’re not locked into it once they make a decision,” Davis said. “(Flexibility) is extremely important. Safety and security is most important to us. If parents don’t feel like they can have an option to educate their kiddos in a safe and healthy environment then we’re not doing our due diligence.
“We want parents to have faith that we want kids to be healthy and safe. We want them to come to school if they can and if they can’t then we’ll take care of them at home.”
Those interested can go to the Moore Public Schools web site to apply for the positions.
“There’s 30 opportunities for them to be a part of Moore Public Schools if they’re interested,” Davis said.
Earlier this month a report from the School Superintendents Association and the Association of School Business Officials International noted districts will face an additional financial burden this fall due to Covid 19.
According to the report, the average district would incur nearly $1.8 million in additional expenses, with the bulk of the spending going toward hiring additional custodial staff, nurses and aides to take students’ temperatures before they board school buses.
These calculations assume the statistics of an average school district with 3,659 students, eight school buildings, 183 classrooms, 329 staff members, and 40 school buses (transporting at 25% capacity, or 915 students, to comply with recommended social distancing guidelines).
In comparison, Moore Public Schools has 35 schools serving 20,000 students with 1,500 certified educators.