Among the many heroes in our communities who deserve appreciation in ways great and small, the amazing individuals who serve as school nurses deserve tremendous gratitude. 

The role of the school nurse has always been incredibly challenging. During the pandemic, the particular challenges have increased many-fold — and yet the school nurses in our midst continue to serve the needs of our students, families, and school staff without hesitation.

During “normal times,” school nurses are asked to manage student medications and records, support students with complex medical needs, respond to medical emergencies, communicate with families, comply with state reporting requirements, soothe bruised feelings, and foster a climate of safety and wellness. 

Pandemic responsibilities have expanded the role to include contact tracing, COVID-19 screening, and outbreak testing, collaborating with local and state health agencies, supporting vaccination efforts, aggregating and reporting health data, and ensuring that extensive safety protocols are prioritized and followed. Because of daily responsibilities when students are present at school, many of these tasks must now be completed in the evening, on weekends, and during holiday times so that these additional details are addressed in a timely way. 

An example of this dedication occurred during the recent Winter Break in River Forest District 90 schools. Because of the recent omicron surge, the D90 school nurses spent much of their vacation responding to needs from the school community about COVID-19 matters, performing contact tracing, and ensuring accurate reporting to our local health department. While this level of commitment is impressive enough when exhibited for a short stint, the pandemic has required this heightened level of commitment for a very long time. D90 nurses have responded to this call with aplomb. 

River Forest District 90 is exceedingly fortunate to have highly experienced nurses in our schools who accomplish everything described above on a daily basis and more. The D90 Nursing Team — school nurses Pam Clink, Erin Godellas, Gina Hardy, and Alex Habenicht, and Infection Control Officer Sam Martini — consists of dedicated individuals who deserve tremendous respect and admiration for the job they are doing to ensure that our schools remain safe, supportive, and caring places for all. 

Without this foundation, maintaining the D90 goal of excellence in teaching and learning would never be possible. Please join our entire school community in celebrating and appreciating the vital contributions that school nurses make each day. 

Ed Condon, PhD, is the superintendent of River Forest District 90 schools.

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