ASHLAND -- With Wednesday, May 9, designated as National School Nurse Recognition Day, it seemed more than appropriate that a group of local nurses attended a recent meeting of the Hanover County School Board meeting to support a presentation by their leader, Health Services Director Terry Woody.
The director told board members that the role of today’s school nurse is much more involved and technical than the traditional image of a school nurse might suggest.
“The timing is well suited as tomorrow is National School Nurse Appreciation Day,” Dr. Michael Gill, superintendent of schools, said.
“School nursing is a highly specialized field that requires knowledge in many areas,” Woody said. “School nurses were once thought to be just ice, lice and band-aids, but I assure you that is not the case.”
Today’s school nurses, including the 24 registered nurses, two licensed practical nurses and one paramedic provide a myriad of services, and their expanded role has allowed more students to attend and stay in class.
“Students who were once homebound due to medical needs are now educated alongside their peers,” Woody said.
School nurses treat a variety of illnesses, but asthma, allergies, seizures and diabetes are the top four categories most seen by campus providers.
Woody also said there’s an unfortunate rise in the number of students who seek care for depression, anxiety and other emotional issues.
“We need to think about those conditions and tailor our services to meet the needs of those students,” Woody said. “Some of those students are looking for a soft place to land.”
Each day, a steady line of students makes their way to the nurse’s office. About 12 percent of those visitors have Individual Education Plans (IEP) or 504 exemptions, or other students require regular medication like inhalers or breathing treatments.
During this school year, more than 108,000 students have visited the clinic at one of Hanover’s campuses. More than 84 percent of those students return to class following those visits.
“Our nurses have evolved. They are health leaders, coordinators, emergency responders, educators . . .” Woody said.
Health Services also provides first aid and CPR(cardio pulmonary resuscitation) training for all county school personnel, reaching about 300 staff members this year.
Woody said one founding function of the position remains strong in the minds of the current providers. “Our job is still to keep students safe,” she said.
In other matters, Ashland resident and Together Hanover member Rachel Levy responded during a public comment period to the board’s recent decision not to consider a name and mascot change at Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
“Our members were very disappointed by your vote at last month’s meeting to maintain the Confederate school names and mascots,” Levy said. “We are asking this evening that you begin the name change process anew.”
Levy pointed to technical and ethical issues surrounding the survey issued by school officials to gather public input.
Despite assurances the survey was just one piece of the decision-making process, Levy said results of that survey were cited as major reasons for five of the seven-member board voting not to approve a name or mascot change.
“Five of you did not use the survey as ‘just one piece of the puzzle.’ You used it as a referendum. And that was not what the public was told it would be used for,” Levy said.
Levy asked the board to utilize a third party independent group to consider the name change process.
“It is time to end Hanover County Public Schools’ endorsement of the Confederate cause and of the cause of Massive Resistance. It’s time to stop compelling students to celebrate the causes of the Confederacy and Massive Resistance,” she concluded.