Is your district going all virtual for the start of the school year? Hybrid? Either way, we as school nurses have to make ourselves useful and indispensable during this unprecedented time. I’ve seen a ton of nurses ask the question “What are we supposed to do from home??” so I figured I would give a little information about some ideas.
The first thing you need is a few supplies. Do you have a computer from work? If you are doing any work that will involve private information like downloading immunization records you will need a district issued laptop for home as it is unwise to keep that info on your personal computer. You will need access to a printer and scanner, a laminator if possible (you can get one from amazon here AmazonBasics 9-Inch Thermal Laminator Machine). Then you will need all your basics like pens, notebooks (or find fun ones here: https://shrsl.com/2fmvr), highlighters etc.
To start out you’re going to work on your normal things we all have to do for the beginning of the year. I have a lot of new kindergarten registrations to wade through since it is normally done at the end of the school year but this year was obviously abnormal. For me this includes entering immunization records into the student information system, entering medical diagnoses, and identifying students who will have medical concerns I need to follow up with.
Immunization compliance: I realize that many states have relaxed the immunization rules due to virtual schooling but compliance and follow up is still necessary. I will be running a list of non-compliant immunizations (after entering all the kinders in) then using two websites (in PA I have PA SIIS and a city registry to look into) to cross check and fill in any missing info. Once that is done I contact parents to discuss any missing immunizations and set up a plan to get them or get the updated records if they are available. This may also include being aware of locations where students can go to receive the immunizations needed and informing them or assisting in getting appointments.
Individual Health Plans (IHP’s): Once I’ve identified all the kids with medical needs I can start to set up all the IHP’s for the ones who need them. I do them on paper at the moment but would be interested in a computer version or an app that would help make it all virtual.
504/IEP planning: I will identify any students that will need a 504 and begin that process. This will include speaking to parents and getting consent to proceed. I don’t have a ton of involvement with IEP planning but I will be in contact with the counsellor and Special Ed team to be included for any students who will need medical components to their IEP.
Along with IHP’s and 504’s, I will be contacting the parents of students who have documented medical needs to ensure that their needs are being met while doing virtual school. I will try to answer questions and/or counsel them related to their medical concerns.
Clerical work: I have TONS of scanning and filing to do. Not only did I not get to finish last years scanning and filing but I will have a continuing pile of things to scan and upload into my SIS and file into binders (yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be shredded but I can’t bring myself to get rid of stuff so I file it all in binders just in case.) If I have the opportunity to work from my building it would make this a lot easier but I can do some of this from home. Also, organizing everything to get started for in-person – binders for all the forms, substitute binder, ordering supplies, etc.
I will have virtual “office hours” for anyone who needs me to contact me via phone, zoom/google meet, email, text, etc. Whether it’s staff or students, they are welcome to contact me to discuss any needs or questions. I will be creating a flyer to announce when my hours are and how to reach me.
Google Classroom: I’m sure some have other platforms but I used Google Classroom in the spring and it worked well for me. I plan to continue that. I posted on my Google Classroom some general health and wellness lessons (kidshealth.org has a section for educators that has tons of lessons in areas of health!) I also posted videos for the kids for yoga breaks, meditation breaks, and even videos that I made myself to teach them things like mask wearing and hand washing. I also created a virtual health room which was a lot of fun. I used this video to help me: https://youtu.be/Y3ZiClcIYJs.
Webinars: look online for webinars about whatever interests you as far as school nursing issues, or covid related issues so you can be as educated as possible for returning to school. You can also search for and complete your CME’s if you need them – there are free ones out there if you look for it. Here is one free CME site you can check out: https://www.elseviercme.com.
BLS and other recertifications: Check on your certifications. Do you need to schedule your recerts? Get that done while you have the opportunity. You can do part of it online with the American Heart Association https://cpr.heart.org/en/cpr-courses-and-kits/healthcare-professional/basic-life-support-bls-training or you can find someone local to help you with it. Check with your local hospital also to see if they have a course offering.
Prepping bulletin boards and decorations: this is where that laminator comes in handy. I am a maker and love to design my own bulletin board stuff. I design it in PowerPoint or Google Slides and then print, cut out and laminate. One could also use a Cricut if they had one (I super need one! You can get one here: Shop Cricut) I also make printables, infographics and various things to put on my walls for decoration and education.
If I have any time leftover I will be available to help the other staff at my school get their work done, and help my other school nurse colleagues get some of their work done if I can.
Be flexible, do what needs to be done, help others out. There’s plenty to do and then some!!
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