DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — As COVID-19 challenges schools’ reopening plans, another question remains: are schools equipped with enough school nurses?
“We will be wearing roller skates and hit the door running,” said District Lead Nurse for Dothan City Schools Dorthea James.
According to James, the additional responsibilities due to COVID-19, in conjunction with school nurses’ regular job duties, are going to keep them busy. However, a nurse shortage is not one of the challenges.
“We do have a nurse in every school, some schools have two some have three, we are fortunate to have a nurse in every school,” James said.
The Dothan City School System has 17 schools and 19 school nurses. School officials say they plan to use the $700,000 from the health and wellness portion of the Coronavirus Relief Funds from Governor Ivey in order to hire more staff members.
“Even though we do have a nurse at every school, we do need some extra helping hands,” James told WDHN. “Dr. Edwards has planned on having four plus a health services liaison to help kind of ease that load because she realized that it is going to be hectic for us.”
If a student comes to the school nurse and shows signs of COVID-19, the student will be taken to an isolation room. This is a separate room from the nurse’s office. There, the nurse can monitor the child following the 6-15 rule.
“We will make sure that we have on the appropriate PPE, we have gloves, we have gowns, we have shoe covers, we will make that assessment for them and as long as we are 6 feet away from them for longer than 15 minutes then we are okay and we won’t have to quarantine ourselves,” James said. “There’s a 6-15 rule that we have to abide by.”
Dothan City Schools are scheduled to reopen Tuesday, September 8. In the meantime, school officials remind parents that students are still expected to be up-to-date on all vaccines prior to the first day of school.
DCS also hopes to purchase temperature scanners. The scanners would be used in schools to in order to avoid using handheld thermometers when checking students’ temperature as they walk into school.