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School nurses adapting to pandemic challenges when helping students

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 7:42 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - For the past year and a half, health care professionals have continued to learn more about COVID-19, including school nurses.

According to the Waverly Public School District, there were more than 1,000 quarantines last year throughout the district because of the coronavirus.

Joslynne Stauss, a registered nurse who handles the entire Waverly district, said with so much uncertainty and unknowns last year, the procedures were much different for school nurses handling a sick student.

“Last year when someone came in, we had a massive list of symptoms that we had to go by, and those were based on CDC recommendations and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.” Stauss said. “We had an exclusion policy based on those symptoms that relaxed a little bit toward December when we knew more about COVID-19, so that list of symptoms grew much, much smaller.”

With no vaccine, that symptom list ultimately decided if a student was to quarantine or not.

When it comes to COVID-19 this year, there is a procedure the nurses take when evaluating each student.

“I’ll say ‘Do you have any symptoms, what’s going on, when did it start,’ we try and trace their illness,” Strauss said. “If I feel like they have symptoms that could be kind of worrisome and if there any way that you’ve had an exposure to someone with COVID-19, then we go down the road of quarantine.”

“If they say no, then if they don’t have the two symptoms we exclude on then we talk to parents and maybe see if they want to try treatment here at school first,” Strauss added.

One of the biggest changes this year compared to last year is more illnesses popping up that aren’t COVID-19, like the stomach flu or mono, Strauss noted.

She also applaud students for their cooperation last year, as well as the general happiness everyone had when heading back in school.

When asked about the Delta variant, Strauss said she was hopeful this will be the last big surge, and that there is optimism for the upcoming school year. The ultimate goal is making sure everyone in the school district stays safe.

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