School nurses stretched thin in many Vt. districts
RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - The pandemic is adding obstacles to most jobs, including school nurses. Entire school districts are now relying on their nurses for contact tracing, testing, and keeping families informed. It’s a pace that the state nurses association says is not sustainable.
“Seem to be getting busier all the time,” said Kelly Landwehr, a school nurse in the Addison Central School District. She says in addition to normal duties like attending to sick students, injuries, and being a case manager, school nurses are contact tracing, surveillance testing, administering Test to Stay, and fielding COVID-related questions seven days a week.
“It’s really nice to be able to offer services like that, but certainly is adding to the workload,” Landwehr said. She says she now checks messages hourly but that not being able to disconnect is not sustainable. “There are days where the workload is so much that I get overwhelmed and that is where my stress comes in -- when I just don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done.”
In the Fair Haven-based Slate Valley Unified Union School District, Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell used part of their federal pandemic money to hire more school nurses, expanding from seven to nine. “We hired extra nurses because of the additional hours this was taking up in terms of evenings, holidays, and weekends,” she said.
Landwehr says the stress and workload are to blame for nurses leaving the field. “I hope it doesn’t last for a whole lot longer, but it is what it is and we’ll keep plugging along,” she said.
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