(Healthline) – With the cold and flu season in full swing, your child may be visiting the school nurse with symptoms.
However, in addition to managing students’ illnesses, the nurse is doing a lot more.
“We are responsible for everyone in the building — students, staff, and visitors. We’re on high alert a lot,” Robin Cogan, RN, school nurse in New Jersey and faculty member at Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden, told Healthline. “I like to call us the Chief Wellness Officer, even though we don’t officially have that title.”
From assessing illnesses and injuries to helping care for children with chronic conditions like diabetes, the nurse’s day is packed.
If you’re worried your child could be overlooked, here’s how you can work with your school nurse to ensure your child gets the support they need.
- Build rapport
Linda Mendonca, RN, president-elect of the National Association of School Nurses, says get to know your school nurse’s name, whether your child has a chronic condition or not.
“Just because your child doesn’t plan to see the nurse regularly for a condition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the school nurse because there may be a time when your child doesn’t feel well,” Mendonca told Healthline.
Cogan agrees, noting that the school nurse is the key person between home and school, home and the physician’s office, and the classroom and nurse’s office.
“We are that soft place to land in the school. We don’t give grades, and the kids know there is a caring person there who can help them. Anything that a parent can share with a school nurse that will add to the success of the student is [helpful],” said Cogan.
By building a rapport, Cogan said the parent can learn what the nurse does and when and why the nurse may send a student home.
“Our goal is to keep our students safe, healthy, and ready to learn. Part of that is keeping them in their seats in the classroom,” she said.
However, when a child is injured or showing signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, they may be sent home, depending on the school’s policies.
“Some of these stomach bugs or something like strep or pink eye can run rampant through school, so part of our job is surveillance, and we have to make sure the kids in school are healthy and not contagious,” said Cogan.