Technology used for virtual school nursing
As the majority of students in the U.S. shift to some level of distance learning for the foreseeable future, school nurses are joining them in that space.
“’Virtual school nursing’ is the term I’m seeing people use,” says Louise Wilson, school nursing and health services consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “Nurses are finding ways to reach out [via] texting, Zoom meetings and more.”
Keep in mind, however, the demographics of your district, says Linda Kimel, a certified school nurse for Rockford Public Schools in Illinois. “The first thing you have to consider is how different every district is. Some have a lot of resources; some don’t.” Know your population and the resources available in your area, she said.
Kimel, for example, works in two schools in a large urban district. At one of the schools, all but two of the students she interacts with on a regular basis have a working email address. In the other school, less than 50 percent of the students have email. “I have to approach both populations very differently,” she says.
School nurses who have been able to shift their work to a virtual space are keeping in touch with students and families through:
∙ Direct emails, phone calls. During these weekly check-ins, nurses ask families how things are going, and if they have everything they need, says Marie DeSisto, a nursing instructor at Cambridge College in Boston.
Older students who are frequently seen in the health office may be emailed directly, giving them the opportunity to respond if they would like, DeSisto adds.
∙ School website. Many nurses are using their school’s or school district’s website to share information.
One of DeSisto’s students has reported updating a school’s Google website to include COVID-19 information. “Many of us have set up a nurse section on the website … where we post information for families to see,” Kimel says.
∙ Videos. Online videos are a popular way for school nurses to convey health information to students, families and their communities. Some nurses have even made videos of themselves reading books to younger students, says Kathleen A. Hassey, director of the School Health Academy and an affiliate associate professor at Northeastern University in Boston.
∙ Telehealth. Nurses also report holding telehealth office hours using apps such as Google Meet. Some have scheduled regular “talk with the school nurse” sessions via Zoom or other formats and use the time to present information explaining the coronavirus, Wilson says.
Others are connecting with students as part of the educational sessions held by teachers, Wilson adds. “They are ‘dropping in’ on the Zoom or Google sessions and asking students how they are doing during this time of school closures and physical distancing.”
Florence Simmons covers Section 504, paraprofessionals, and transportation for Special Ed Connection, a DA sister publication. Subscribers to Special Ed Connection can access additional stories and guidance on this topic via www.specialedconnection.com.
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