MISSOULA — Throughout the summer and into the school year, we’ve brought you stories from teachers and school officials as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
We recently talked to the person who’s handling both public education and public health throughout this crisis and got the perspective of a school nurse.
Assessing illnesses and addressing injuries, taking temperatures and training staff, vision screening and classroom teaching -- these and about a 100 other things fall under the job description of a school nurse.
But what does it mean when you add a pandemic to the list? Lisa Flanagan, RN case manager for Missoula County Public Schools, says surprisingly, the COVID-19 workload isn’t much of a workload at all.
"You know, it's not nearly as much as I thought it was going to be," she told MTN News. "We worked during the summer to put protocols in place, and those have been really helpful. And then having that reduced capacity in this hybrid model means that actually my day has not changed all that much.
Nowadays when Flanagan meets with students, she’s most likely screening them for COVID-19, but with about 20% of the MCPS student population learning remotely, the number of students she sees has gone down significantly.
"Whereas maybe I would see somewhere between 10 and 40 kids in a day, I might see five to 10," Flanagan said.
While there was hesitancy to begin the year in this hybrid model, Flanagan says so far this model is working.
"I think parents have been on top of it, kids are great with their masks," she said. "It’s sort of like, 'oh well this is what you do at school, alright', and then they are just continuing on.
With flu season right around the corner and symptoms for the flu similar to those of COVID-19, Flanagan says they’ll have no choice but to err on the side of caution, and send students home more often than not.
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