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School Nurse, Helen Bailey of Cold Spring, Kentucky, reflects on her focus on school safety at the start of another school year.

Summer IS always too short for this school nurse! I treasure the lazy days of summer spent with family and friends. However, just like the students, I must face the reality of back to school.

In fact, I am thinking of back to school even during my summer break. Over the summer, I obtain my 14 hours of continuing education required for my nursing license. On a more personal level, I maintain contact with my students who have Type 1 Diabetes by inviting them and their families for a swim party at my home. This at-home connection helps the students feel more comfortable coming to me during the school year.

So here we are. Back at school. This year, my goals focus on safety.  In July, I attended Michele Gay’s 4-hour presentation on school safety. She was the keynote speaker at the Kentucky Firefighters Association conference.  Six faculty and staff from our school attended.  We are preparing to present at the next faculty meeting to share what we learned that day.

My number one goal has always been the safety of our students.  But now, I am even more informed. For instance, as I leave one building to go to the next for a parent meeting on food allergies, I take the extra second to make sure the door is locked behind me.  When I am checking a blood sugar before snack, from time to time, I will take that student with me to practice a lockdown drill.  As I fill in at the front desk for our secretary, I answer the door and ask visitors to provide their name and reason for their visit as they sign in and get a badge.  I teach CPR and the use of a defibrillator while making certain everyone has access to our defibrillator on the ball field.

Our school administration and the school board are acutely aware of school safety.  Many measures have been implemented to improve the safety on our campus.  More changes are on the horizon.  I am proud to belong to a team that strives to keep our campus as safe as possible, from the individual health needs of our students all the way up through the entire school community.

I wish everyone a safe and healthy school year!

Helen Bailey, RN
School Nurse
Cold Spring, Kentucky

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