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SC school nurse says schools need full-time nurses on staff when reopening

Dawn MacAdams says if schools reopen this fall, they all need a full time nurse to handle potential COVID-19 cases.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — We’ve heard from teachers, administrators, parents and even kids on what they think about reopening schools. But what about school nurses?

Dawn MacAdams, the immediate past president of the South Carolina Association of School Nurses and coordinator of health services for Richland School District Two, said staffing of nurses needs to change to handle COVID-19 cases if schools reopen. 

“Right now, people don't belong back in the schools and I understand their parents that want their children back. But we also have to look at our faculty and staff.”

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Macadams says until coronavirus cases go down in South Carolina, schools should be virtual.

Many South Carolina schools don’t have a nurse on staff or if they do – they’re part time. 

“There's about 204 nurses needed to staff all buildings in the state of South Carolina.”

MacAdams says if schools reopen this fall, they all need a full time nurse to handle potential COVID-19 cases.

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“We need a sick room and a well room, essentially, and we need someone to staff both. So, nurses are going to need nursing assistant type unlicensed assistive personnel to help them so you can navigate the well and the ill.”

She adds that nurses will need a bigger space to keep potential COVID-19 patients separate from kids dealing with a stomach ache or injury, for example.

Plus, registered nurses could even test students for the virus if necessary:

“We are capable to partner with DHEC if they were able to come up with some kind of a system of standing orders, school nurses would be willing to do the PCR test for students that don't have access to health care. If they don't have a regular provider or if it would be difficult for the parent to find somewhere to take them to, it will be one step that we would at least be able to get the person tested and sent home to quarantine until we got results back to see if they needed to isolate.”

While districts draft up plans for the fall, MacAdams says finding more school nurses should be at the top of the list.