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A Sandy Hook Initiative for Safer Schools

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I have a long, happy history with school nurses. Most of us do. I can remember every school nurse throughout my academic career and into my teaching one. I wasn’t particularly unhealthy or needy. I just knew where to go for unconditional support. And so did everyone else.

Often the most popular staff member in a school, nurses hand out Band-aids, smiles, and compassionate care all day long. They keep an eye on students and staff and remain ready to provide critical care, intervention, and medical resources to our school communities. They educate students, staff, and families about everything from first aid and allergy safety to blood born pathogens and concussion safety.

When my role in the school community shifted from teacher to parent, it was the school nurse that served as our family’s wellness liaison, helping me find area doctors and specialists, keeping track of medications, vaccinations, and dietary requirements, and checking in with me when one of my children was not well. The nurse worked closely with my children’s teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, special educators–and even the cafeteria staff–to ensure my children’s wellness in school.

Today in my work as a school safety educator and advocate in school communities across the country, I meet a lot of people. One person I am sure to meet in every school is the nurse. It is rare that I meet with a safety team that does not include the school nurse. In fact, many of these teams are lead by the school nurse.

With a steady finger on the pulse of the school community’s wellness, in depth knowledge of each and every student and staff member, and emergency and medical training, the school nurse is a critical member of every school’s safety team. The unique qualifications and no-nonsense style of many school nurses often positions them to stand up for safety in a way that other staff members cannot.

This week at Safe and Sound Schools, we recognize and celebrate the countless contributions of our nation’s school nurses to the wellness and safety of our school communities. If you haven’t already, stop in and say thank you to your school’s nurse today. Know that your school’s nurse can serve as a tremendous asset to the safety of your community.  Offer your support, or perhaps an invitation to partner for school safety.

While you might not walk out of the nurse’s office with a Band-aid, sticker, or note to go home, you’re certain to walk off with a smile on your face, gratitude in your heart, and an advocate for safety by your side.

Michele Gay
Safe and Sound Schools

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