School Nurses in Philadelphia

This week, the school nurse had to call me on two occasions to talk to me about my kids. On one of those occasions, I had to go pick up my daughter who had been sick at school. When I got to the school, she was sitting in the nurse's office, calming down, and waiting for me. Not in the hallway, not in her classroom, not in the school office. In a quiet corner office with the nurse.

As a parent, I have to say that there is something very comforting about having a nurse at my kids' school. My one daughter has some - we'll call them issues - and it makes me feel much better knowing that there is someone at the school who is watching out for her.

But that's not the case as a whole in Philadelphia. In fact, there are many schools which don't have a nurse at all. In response, Superintendent Ackerman has stated, as one of her goals:

At the school level, our immediate goal is to restore 27 nursing positions and eventually to have one fulltime nurse in every school building.

I just feel that this is absolutely mandatory. I grew up in one of the poorest counties in the country and our school had a full time nurse. It was a priority. Why not here? Why not now?

It's a fact that kids who aren't feeling well can't perform well in school. And it's a fact that kids who aren't feeling well can make other kids sick.

Our teachers have far too much going on to have to make these kinds of determinations on their own: Is the kid really sick? Should I call the parent? Is he or she contagious?

You really need a health care professional making these kinds of calls. I hope that Philadelphia gets its act together on this issue. School health is just so important - especially now with instances of flu, swine flu and occasional outbreaks of other scary diseases. We can't afford to skimp.

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