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How has your role as a school nurse changed with COVID?

Updated | Posted

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.


COVID has brought many changes to all nurses and the entire world.  Nurses working in hospitals have been stressed to the max due to lack of PPE, increased patient numbers and acuity, shortage of nurses, and more.  But let's not forget the School nurses.  With schools fluctuating between virtual attendance and in-person classes, school nurses have had to remold their roles to fit the needs of their patients and patience.  School staff, administration, and parents have looked to you with many different needs and expectations.

What are some of the changes you have had to make?

What changes have you seen, for better or worse, as the Pandemic has evolved into what seems to be an everlasting nightmare?

Do you feel like your voice is being heard?

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

Easily 70% of the job is COVID related at this point. Also, the emphasis used to be on trying to keep the kids with somatic complaints in class and not send them home.

Now I can't get rid of them fast enough...

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

SOOOOO much time spent contact tracing, education and reassuring!. We have morphed into public health nurses for sure. An upside, most times, is that I have spent a crazy amount of time on  the phone with parents. I have really gotten to know some of them quite well,and am working on building relationships. Way less kids in my office for sure. I really do miss them!!

JenTheSchoolRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in School nursing.

All of my time seems like it is running my weekly testing program. It is individual PCR right now, shifting to pooled testing for students in a couple of weeks. And all the contact tracing that goes with this. 

tining, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nurse. Has 27 years experience.

I feel like 90% covid - contact tracing; speaking with parents, students, and staff; Rapid testing on campus; lots of time spent getting information out.  Parents still delay contacting me or teachers are telling me someone is positive.  Coordinating with "Wellness Team"

Immunizations - luckily I have only have a few delinquent, but I work on it so sporadically.

State screenings - I have attempted, just don't feel like I can devote the time like previous years.

I agree with building better relationships.

Very few come to see me for run of the mill problems, lots of anxiety from students though.

Edited by tining

cowboysandangels, BSN

Specializes in Peds. Has 21 years experience.

Covid at least 90% of the time.  I can recite the protocols in my sleep.  We are not working with the local health department at all so we do all our own contact tracing.  Messages start hitting my phone by 5:30 am most mornings.  I am working all through the evenings and weekends also.  I see way less kids in my office during the day.  Tons more meetings.  Much more angry parents. Worried teachers who are petrified standing at my door wondering if their student that is out has COVID but I can't tell them.  Worst year for sure.

BrisketRN, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience.

New things I'm in charge of:

  • Keeping track of all COVID-related updates from the state dept of health, city dept of health, and state board of education
  • Contact tracing for new positive cases
  • Contacting staff & students in quarantine due to close contact
  • Contacting every parent of a student out for illness, determining if a COVID test is required based on our protocol
  • Answering all questions about travel in regards to needed quarantine after travel
  • Organizing vaccines for our teaching staff
  • Communication with our local health department
  • Writing many health related policies, updating many health related policies

New changes:

  • I see less students throughout the day, most first aid is handled within the classroom and because the children have to remain 6 ft apart there are significantly less injuries during PE and recess
  • Nearly every child with illness symptoms is sent home
  • I've had to delegate more than ever this year.  The desk receptionists have been a godsend in administering scheduled oral meds if I'm trapped in the isolation room.
  • I do "classroom calls" and hallway assessments to keep kids out of my office.
  • I do a lot of public health education for our teachers, parents, administration.  

I am grateful that I am working at a school where the administration respects my expertise.  My principal often refers to me as the "COVID expert."  I've been highly involved in every step of the process of reopening, policy making, policy updating, and implementation of mitigation tools.  I even helped in the design of the staff lactation room (2020 brought 8 new staff babies!) so that it is COVID safe.

I have become Covid cop.  I hate it. no one comes in anymore, everyone hates getting emails from me now. Parents do not want their kids screened in the office for fear of being exposed, so I asked for physicals but they won't get physicals in their Dr's offices for fear of getting exposed. Chasing teachers to keep masks on, (seriously you are adults, and you are acting worse than the kids)

I miss being a school nurse..I miss the happy, fun days, the whole school day is sad.

k1p1ssk, BSN, RN

Specializes in pediatrics. Has 10 years experience.

Parents are keeping their sick kids home, which means my in-office visits are down dramatically. The kids are spaced out so much during recess and team-based games have been banned for this year, so the injury visits have gone way down as well. 

In an effort to cut down on traffic in the halls, we have really encouraged staff to utilize the "Staff Rendering First Aid" policy and given comprehensive first-aid kits to every classroom. This has cut down on the number of things like paper cuts, minor nosebleeds, and other minor injuries from in classrooms that come to my office for care.

With all that said, my "admin" work has gone through the roof, what with managing sick calls, teacher questions/concerns, parent emails, etc. Anytime a student or staff member is absent due to illness, I follow up to make sure they get tested before returning, if their symptoms warrant it. I am frequently cross referencing the hybrid schedule to see who is supposed to be in-person vs. online. I've written more letters, created more forms, and spoken with more parents this year than in my previous two years combined, I'm sure. 


Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

Doing things I never thought I would as a school nurse like contact tracing and, starting tomorrow, vaccinating our school staff!  We are partnering with our county's public health department and holding our first COVID vaccine clinic tomorrow! 


JenTheSchoolRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in School nursing.

15 hours ago, KKEGS said:

Doing things I never thought I would as a school nurse like contact tracing and, starting tomorrow, vaccinating our school staff!  We are partnering with our county's public health department and holding our first COVID vaccine clinic tomorrow! 


That is amazing! I have trying to organize this for when educators in my state are eligible and gotten no where :(. 

Edited by JenTheSchoolRN

BrisketRN, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience.

2 hours ago, JenTheSchoolRN said:

That is amazing! I have trying to organize this for when educators in my state are eligible and gotten no where :(. 

I'm in that same situation.  Teachers are currently eligible & my local health department won't give answers or even a logical response to when we will be able to vaccinate at school. 

Nurses in our district actually work for the local health department.  We've been used for contact tracing while we were on lockdown and now are vaccinating throughout the city when not in school.  The schools are in hybrid mode, the majority of students are doing virtual, and the kids and staff are following precautions the best they can.  The kids are only in school half days so no gym or recess, thus no scrapes or inhaler needs.  My hardcore asthmatics have stayed virtual as have the medically complex kids.  For the most part, the office is quiet (don't want to jinx that!).  The state has not given the go ahead for teachers to register for the vaccine yet and I don't see us vaccinating in schools anytime soon due to the temperature requirements.  Aside from missing a few physicals from virtual students, I'm well ahead of the paperwork and my office has never been so organized!