School nurses to face new challenges this academic year

Back to School with Eyewitness News

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Much is expected of school nurses to meet the health needs of students but this year, the pandemic will bring even more challenges.

Some schools like those in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District are giving families the option of in-person learning. It adds another concern for school nurses who already face a complicated job.

School nurse Sara Woznock keeps over-the-counter medication handy if needed for students at Dodson Elementary School. A typical school year for her means tending to colds and stomach aches, cuts and bruises, and making sure students are up to speed with their immunizations, but there is nothing typical about the 2020-2021 school year.

“I think just stretching yourself to be able to do it all is our biggest concern,” Woznock said.

The threat of COVID-19 heaps a whole new layer of responsibility on Woznock and other school nurses including mask enforcement, even if a student loses theirs.

“We will be able to give them a new one but I think we’re just going to have to be very diligent on making sure that they keep them on.”

One key COVID-19 safety precaution measure will be a thermal scanner that will be located near the metal detector. Students will have to pass through it before reporting to their classroom to determine if they have a fever of 100.4 degrees or greater.

“So if it didn’t start as soon as they got here, and they come down here with a fever or any type of symptom they are quarantined so they’ll be put in a different room,” Woznock told Eyewitness News.

From there, they will need to be cleared by their doctor or self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Ms. Sara Woznock does a fabulous job here at Dodson Elementary and we are very fortunate to have her. But, yes, her role gets even heightened,” said John Mendola, principal at Dodson Elementary School.

A role that puts her and other school nurses in direct contact with a student who could end up COVID-19 positive.

“I’m worried that they are going to be in here with me and I am going to have to take care of them. That puts me at risk. I am going to do everything I can to protect myself and to protect them but the risk is a little bit higher,” Woznock said.

Wilkes-Barre Area School District will begin the new school year on September 11. When it does, Woznock says she will be there because it’s what she signed up for.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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