Is it allergies, a cold, COVID-19 or something else? Most of us never think about our school nurses, but we are distantly comforted knowing they are working in our schools throughout the Cobb County School District. If a student needs medication during the day, or falls at recess, or has more serious underlying issue, school nurses are often on the frontline of triage that leads to feeling better. This year our nurses have been key members of an important team of leaders who are working to provide students with a face-to-face learning option.

Wellstar Health System is the presenting sponsor for an upcoming event on April 28 th on the Osborne High School campus, being organized by the Cobb Schools Foundation to recognize and thank school nurses.

Cobb Schools has approximately 65% of students attending face-to-face and have leaned on Cobb and Douglas Public Health for setting the local guidelines that will help control the spread of COVID-19, but the implementation at the local school level is where a team of principals, administrators, and nurses are collaborating on ways to identify concerns and address them immediately with the tools in place.

Melanie Bales, Cobb County School District’s Nurse Supervisor and President of Georgia Association of School Nurses shared that the school district has approximately 140 nurses throughout the district of 111 schools, including consulting nurses and Special Education nurses. According to Georgia Association of School Nurses, the profession is defined as, “a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the wellbeing, academic success, and life-long achievement of students. They serve to facilitate positive student responses to normal development; promote health and safety; intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self-management, self-advocacy, and learning.”

Dr. Rene Garriss, Principal of Mountain View Elementary shared, “a new layer has been added to a typical day as a school nurse. On top of allergies, asthma, diabetes, seizure disorders, stomachaches, headaches, nausea, sore throats, injuries, school nurses are working evenings and weekends when it comes to contact tracing, answering parents' questions regarding exposure to COVID-19, as well as any health-related concerns. School Nurses are truly "Super Heroes" every day and even more so this year. As a principal, I do not know (nor would I want to) what I would have done without Nurse Gini.  We have spent numerous hours contact tracing throughout the school year and even over breaks.”

The Cobb Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting recently and the MDJ’s Citizen of the Year Award went to frontline healthcare workers. The Cobb County School District agrees that healthcare workers have been a critical part of achieving gains against the toll of COVID-19. Felicia Wagner with the Cobb Schools Foundation, the philanthropic arm for the Cobb County School District shared, “our entire team here at CCSD wants to thank Wellstar and all of our frontline healthcare workers for consistently being in the middle of this battle against an invisible enemy. It’s difficult to try and think of creative ways to thank other people who willingly risk everything dear to them to make our world better and safer, but despite the worldly noise that too often gets in the way of stewardship – we do notice you – you are cherished by so many and I hope our school nurses can get a glimpse of the gratitude the community has for working to make us all feel better.”

Felicia Wagner is the executive director of the Cobb Schools Foundation.

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