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School nurses are more important than ever this year

Both school districts hired additional nurses and support staff and provided them with protective equipment.
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 4:59 PM MDT
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BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KEVN) - It’s back to school season, and with the heightened concern around students being sick, school nurses are now more important than ever.

“We want to make this a safe environment so that parents feel like their students are going to be taken care of and that they’re safe here,” said Stacy Cookie, Douglas School District department head for nurses.

Cookie said she wants to make sure students feel safe. In year’s past, they’ve checked all kids in the same area, but this year, both Douglas School District and Rapid City Area Schools created a new plan.

“We did a lot of triaging in the same room for well versus ill kids and this year, we will not be doing that,” said Sateera Thompsen, RCAS District Health Coordinator. “The well kids will have a direct place to go to and the kids who are symptomatic or not feeling well will go to a different area.”

To help contain the potential spread of COVID-19, Douglas School District has isolation rooms so if a student comes to the school nurse with a fever and a cough or sore throat, they could have to hang out in there.

“It was a recommendation that we have an isolation room so that we have a place for the kids to go to keep them separate from say this office is my clean space, this is where my healthy kids need to come in,” said Cookie. “Trying to keep that separation between this disease process that we’re dealing with of the pandemic and my healthy kids is really important.”

Both school districts hired additional nurses and support staff and provided them with protective equipment.

“We can keep ourselves safe. We’ve been provided face shields, N-95 masks, gowns, the whole kit, and caboodle,” said Thompsen. “So, when we go in to do an assessment, triage a kid for symptoms, we will have all the correct PPE on.”

Both nurses said the first few weeks of the school year will be interesting, and Thompsen said she thinks they’ll see twice as many kids a day than they normally would.

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