School Nurse Day Is May 6

School Nurses Acknowledged on May 6 But Appreciated Every Day
Posted on 05/01/2020
This is the image for the news article titled School Nurses Acknowledged on May 6 But Appreciated Every DayNational School Nurse Day was scheduled for Wednesday, May 6 this year. Little did organizers know that the recognition for these health care providers would be severely affected by a health crisis.

Weakley County Schools’ ten school nurses have not seen all the students under their care since March 16, the last day of classes before the COVID-19 closure. However, though the students are out of their sight, they are still on their minds.

“And in their hearts,” adds Beth Kempton, RN, School Nurse Supervisor for the county and the nurse at Westview High School. “We’re the ones who get to provide that extra TLC (tender loving care), and we haven’t stopped just because the school doors are closed.”

Nurses are helping distribute meals at the various distribution points around the county. They are calling children every day. Some, Kempton notes, are even checking on the well-being of the teachers.

The theme for this year’s national emphasis is School Nurses: Supporting Students in Times of Crisis. This theme recognizes that school nurses play an integral role in the health of students, regardless of whether they’re in school or not.

The 2019-20 academic year had already been on course to be one of the busier years yet for the team of health care providers that includes Kempton, Holly Spaulding at Dresden Elementary, Teresa Lemons at Martin Elementary, Jennifer Brown at Martin Middle, Becky Wilson at Martin Primary, Marilyn Wade at Sharon,Regenia Horton at Greenfield, Diane Lillegard at Dresden High, Whitney Cates at Dresden Middle and Tina Kelly at Gleason.

Kempton says that while yearend reports are not due until summer, she already knows they will reflect an increase in stomach flu and an increase in mental health issues.

Lemons at Martin Elementary agrees that school nurses are serving as listening ears and counselors much more frequently than in the past. She’s in her ninth year with the school system, having spent the first five serving both Martin Primary and Elementary.

“At the one school, I’m now seeing more kids a day than I used to see at both,” she acknowledged, noting that included a significant increase in those with some type of anxiety issues.

Both women note that the increase in mental health-related visits could also be a result of the familiarity they have with school nurses.

“They feel confident with us because they have seen us year after year,” said Lemons. “They may have a new teacher in the new school year, but we are the same, and they know they can talk to us.”

Kempton says that since the schools closed she is taking more walks. She enjoys seeing the many children in her neighborhood riding bikes and doing chalk art in the streets because it’s a good sign they are dealing with the unknown of the school closure in positive ways.

She is also proud of the continued connections school nurses are having with the students – safely socially distant, of course. She points to Marilyn Wade, the nurse in Sharon, as an example. Wade made it into the school-produced video of greetings to students during closure – by riding up to the camera on horseback.

Having stayed extra days in March to ensure that students received their medications that were stored there, the nurses’ attention must now be turned toward closing out their offices for the year, checking equipment, and finishing reports.

Some of what school nurses do will be found in the final pages of those reports but not all. Their days are similar – with all showing that TLC – and yet diverse. Dispensing medications; checking blood sugar and blood pressure; administering breathing treatments as well as aid for scrapes and cuts; discerning the difference between a stomach ache and a hunger pang; calling parents, doctors, nurses and specialists who can provide needed eyewear or hearing helps; checking on students who have been absent for too long; teaching classes about a disease or how to do CPR or how to wash hands as the awareness of the pandemic grew; assisting with health checks; advising health-oriented clubs; and even singing with students in the cafeteria are among the varied list of a school nurse’s activities.

“We value the priceless contribution our nurses make to education in Weakley County,” said Director Randy Frazier. “We know that students cannot learn if they are not healthy. I’m glad we have a day set aside to appreciate them, but, quite frankly, I and administrators, the school board and teachers appreciate them every day.”

school nurses

Each school in the Weakley County School system has a school nurse. They are:Holly Spaulding at Dresden Elementary, Teresa Lemons at Martin Elementary, Jennifer Brown at Martin Middle, Beth Kempton at Westview, Becky Wilson at Martin Primary, Marilyn Wade at Sharon,Regenia Horton at Greenfield, Diane Lillegard at Dresden High, Whitney Cates at Dresden Middle and Tina Kelly at Gleason.