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Sanford’s five school nurses gave a joint presentation via Zoom at the October 19 School Committee meeting.

Amy Humphrey, RN, from Carl J. Lamb School, explained that school nurses aren’t just nurses who work in schools; it’s a specialty like cardiac or emergency nursing, that requires special training. She described the various roles of a school nurse, which include being a first responder to any emergency on school grounds; being an advocate and educator; holding yearly flu clinics for all students and staff; assessing injured students for signs of possible abuse; and more.

Lynne Signore, RN, from Sanford High School/SRTC, detailed the testing that school nurses perform with each student, including vision and hearing screenings, and dental screenings (not this year). She said that in 2019, a total of 478 students and 116 faculty and staff in the School District received flu shots. She provided statistics on some of the students’ major health conditions that are monitored, and detailed how many students each school nurse sees in a typical day (70 at SHS/SRTC alone).

Mary Boone, RN, from Margaret Chase Smith School, talked about the daily routine of a school nurse in Sanford under the current Covid-19 guidelines. She also described some of the positive aspects of this school year, including having no issues with mask compliance; new spaces and isolation rooms at MCS; the availability of free food through the federal government; and having the support of Certified Nursing Assistants at each school.

Debbie Toothaker, RN, from Willard School, spoke about the challenges this year has brought, including variables in Covid-19 testing times; symptoms of other conditions that may mimic the virus; and having to meet via Zoom. She gave particular mention to how the relational aspect of the job has been impacted – no hugs and few high-fives, and with a mask on, no one can see you smile.

Shawnda Lapointe, RN, from Sanford Middle School described the “Swiss Cheese Respiratory Virus Defense” (pictured above) where each intervention is symbolized by a slice of cheese. The interventions, including masks, physical distancing, hand washing, and more, each have holes; but the holes don’t all line up, so that with enough slices, the virus is prevented from spreading. She said she is confident that Covid-19 can be contained “if everyone brings the cheese.”

Committee members all gave kudos to the nurses for the presentation, and for the work they are doing every day to keep our students safe and healthy.

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