Saturday, September 6, 2008

Does Your School Have a Nurse???

Wow, this has been a crazy week. I thought when your kids started school you had more time on your hands, not less. I feel like I have been running around all week non stop, and barely have time to sit down and relax. I have a few minutes now to have a cup of coffee, but I am guessing someone will start screaming, fighting, hitting, or destroying in a matter of minutes.

I spent yesterday morning volunteering in Michael's kindergarten class. It was a very interesting experience, and it totally freaked me out (yes, I was a Valley Girl growing up), in regards to sending Conor to kindergarten next year. I am not sure it is even possible to make the school safe enough for him to go. I can not see how it could happen unless I attend every snack time. First of all, these kids wander around the school totally on their own to go to different classes, move from snack to recess, etc. Is this the normal way kindergarten works? Am I just being an overprotective mother? I keep wondering if they have ever lost a child, and if so for how long.

So then, the kids bring their own snack, and take it outside to a row of tables where all the other kindergarteners and first graders bring their snack. (5 kindergarten classes, and probably 5 first grade classes, maybe 200 or so kids) Each class has their own table. They walk in a line to their table, and then, I look around and the teacher has completely dissapeared. There is me and another parent volunteer who have never been here before, and we look at each other a bit confused as to what is supposed to happen now. The kids all sit there pretty much unsupervised eating their snacks many of which include peanut butter. Then on their own when they decide they are finished they pack away their lunches, put their backpacks against a wall and run off to play. The school has a huge playground where these 200 or kids play, and there are maybe 3 teachers and a few parents watching 200 kids run wild.

Well, as I expected, a fight ensued, and I was not so nicely called away from my one attempt to relax. Oh well, I have finally got the sweet young houlligans into bed, and need to vent some more about this school thing.

Today I went with Natalie to a play date at a friends house. These two girls have known each other for alomst two weeks, and being seperated for a day, or the horror, a weekend, is excrutiatingly painful. So I took her over to her new friends house for a playdate, and spent some time talking to her mother (who is very nice by the way). Playdate Mom has three children, the oldest who is 13, and all have gone through this same immersion program. While she is very happy with the program as a whole, she did tell me more amazingly disturbing things about the school in regards to keeping my food allergic child safe.

Apparently the school has no nurse. If someone is sick or not feeling well, they are sent to the front office to be in the care of the two women who work in the front office and are known for their nasty demeanor. Lets call them the Nasty Nancys. There is a cot, and a first aid kit, and perhaps a book with some information on illnesses, but nothing else. The Nasty Nancys decide if the child is sick, and if so call the parents. The front office is also the storage for all of the medicines a child may need during the day, and the Nasty Nancys are also generally responsible for administering it.

I had never heard a school with over 500 students not having at least a nurse on hand to deal with all of the medical issues. I am sure my child is not the only one out there who needs some sort of medical expertise. What about a kid with diabetes, or epilepisy, or astham, etc, etc????

I did a little research, and discovered that not all schools are required to have a school nurse on staff - In fact most of them don't. This article below is a good overview of the situation.

Apparently only 5% of California Schools have a full time school nurse. Yikes!!! I hate when I find out things I needed to know, but wished didn't.
Does your school have a nurse??


Jennifer B said...

Yeah I saw this article about the nurse shortage the other day. I did not realize how fortunate we are in our town. Every school has a full-time nurse. The private preschools don't and this was a factor in my decision to send our PA son to the public preschool program. With all the food allergies, diabetes, etc, you'd think every school would have a full-time nurse. Is it a public school, where your kids are? Maybe you'll have to start campaigning for funding a nurse...

BTW. You asked (perhaps, rhetorically, I know) about whether it's normal/typical for such young students to move about at school on their own. I have no idea how typical our school is, but for comparison: except for bathroom visits, they appears to be escorted by a teacher, in a line, everywhere. To the library, from the library, to gym, to lunch, to the exit at the end of the day.

Keep us posted! I can definitely relate to the frenetic pace of the school year. September and October appear to be crazy busy each year. Good luck, and take extra vitamins or something--you don't have time to catch a cold from the kids!

Jennifer said...


Yes, you are very fortunate. I had no idea that schools did not have some sort of nurse or medical personel to deal with all the childrens medical needs It would be one thing if it was a tiny school but yikes, not for over 500 kids.

Thanks for letting me know how kids move around your school. Michael and Natalie are in kindergarten, but still they are only 5.

I am moving towards accepting that Conor will just have to go to a different probably a private school. Michael and Natalie go to a public school, and it seems so many of the resources and personell are missing or under staffed because of job cuts. I know they are required by law to make a food allergic child safe, but I don't know if it is really possible given their restrictions.