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To the editor: This week marks both National Nurses Week and Teacher Appreciation Week. These two professions have worked harder than ever during the pandemic. Recently, the Vermont State School Nurses’ Association estimates a shortage of school nurses in K-12 schools in Vermont. Additionally, the figures shared do not even reveal the number of part-time nurses or nurses shared across a district or between two schools. Legislators, school administrators, and community members must realize the importance of properly staffing schools, especially in rural settings, with full-time qualified nurses.

School nurses are at the frontline of developing a COVID-response team, administer medication to students in need, track student medical records, and provide all medical assistance necessary to keep a school running safely. In rural schools, “the school nurse is often the primary health care provider that families and children see” according to Sophia Hall, president of the nurses’ association. The position of a school nurse should be considered a priority for school budgets and assistance in providing funding for nurses in rural schools should be supplemented by the state.

Our community, school administrators, and state legislators must learn more about the expanded responsibilities given to school nurses in the 21st Century in order to properly staff and provide the services necessary to our students and school community. Our students deserve to have this medical staff available at all times.

A big shout out to all the school nurses! We appreciate all you do in keeping our children safe and well so they can learn.

With respect,

Christine R. Colella

Wilmington, May 4