Vulnerable Philly kids face a school nurse shortage that has some families ‘scared to death’
Agyili Mitchell sends her daughter to Richard Wright Elementary every day holding her breath.
Aaila, 5, loves school, but the kindergartner has sickle cell anemia, asthma, and allergies that can send her into anaphylactic shock, and Wright, in North Philadelphia, has a school nurse only one day a week.
More than a dozen of the Philadelphia School District’s 220 schools lack a full-time nurse. Some of those schools share nurses, receiving care one or two days a week. Some aren’t covered at all.
Beset by a pandemic and a national nursing shortage, the district has roughly 18 nurse vacancies and nine nurses out on long-term leave. The nurses who are left are essentially performing two jobs — their regular duties plus the public health work required while COVID-19 rages.