I am a School Nurse and I am afraid.

I am a school nurse and I am afraid.

I am afraid of returning to my school after being closed for almost half of the school year and navigating a completely new way of doing my job. It’s like starting a new job all over again with no training.

I am afraid of returning to a building that may not have the physical updates to manage the new regulations that we need to follow such as good ventilation, infection control, isolation, and distancing. Many buildings lack the space for appropriate distancing, they lack good accommodations in bathrooms, they lack air conditioning, they lack windows that open and some need general repairs and asbestos abatement. When will this be done? Who will pay for it?

I am afraid of returning to a situation that is grossly understaffed. Do we have enough teachers for in person AND virtual learning? Enough teaching assistants? Enough custodial engineers to properly deploy the cleaning protocols created by the CDC to keep us safe? Are there enough nurses to go around? Are there enough substitutes to go around?

I am afraid of the expectation that as a nurse I will have all the answers all the time. There is so much information going around and while I can try to organize it all it’s impossible. I want to be able to educate my coworkers and students as a healthcare professional but how? The information changes daily. I’m overwhelmed.

I am afraid of going back into a situation that we aren’t ready for and seeing it all come crashing down around us. No one has a perfect plan – how could we?

I am afraid of seeing my students and their families getting seriously ill because we are together too soon. I am afraid of myself and my family getting seriously ill because we were together too soon. I am afraid of seeing my coworkers become ill and see their mental health suffer due to being together too soon.

I’m afraid of NOT seeing my students and knowing that some may fall through the cracks in a system that is already very broken and only going to widen the cracks in this “new normal”. I am afraid for my students that can’t escape their homes that may not be the friendliest, for the ones who have no homes and count on us for 8 hours of shelter, for the ones with special needs who need devoted attention and 1:1 specialist therapies. I am afraid for the parents who need the respite of sending their children to school so they can have a few minutes to breathe.

I am afraid for those who have to go to work and figure out how to homeschool their kids for however long they have to. While it is of course the safer option, many parents have to go to work and support their families. I am afraid for the teachers and school staff that will have to come in to work while having to figure out how to homeschool their own kids.

I am afraid for those who don’t take this issue seriously. Teaching the kids how to respect themselves and others by complying with the new rules must start at home. Sadly, I’m afraid that some won’t understand and some will choose not to comply because like it or not this is what’s happening.

I am a school nurse and I am afraid.

Published by Emme Mauer BSN, RN, CSN

Mom to two preemies, anxiety sufferer, postpartum depression survivor, and school nurse extraordinaire.

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