Giving Compass' Take:

• There is a severe school nurse shortage in Chicago public schools, despite there being many reasons for schools to recruit and retain trained, professional nurses.

• What are some potential solutions at the education policy level that need to change to accommodate school nurses? 

• Read about how telehealth is helping communities that do not have access to healthcare.

Chicago’s public school children deserve a nurse in every school, every day.

I’m a certified school nurse, and I listened closely to Mayor Lightfoot’s recent announcement that the city would add 250 more nurses over the next five years. I’m cynical due to the history of promises that have been made to students that have gone unrealized.

Some people might be cynical for other reasons, arguing that more nurses in more schools is unnecessary, or overkill. My experience has taught me otherwise.

In my first year with the Chicago Board of Education, I was assigned to three schools. My second year, that number grew to five. This past school year I started out with six, which was fortunately dialed back to five about a month later.

There are multiple reasons that Chicago students deserve a nurse in every school, every day. One is to care for physical wounds.Treating post-traumatic stress is another reason to have nurses. We also need a nurse to help navigate health inequities. It was my dogged interrogation of a parent who was not getting their child’s health screening done that eventually revealed the reason: the parents were undocumented, and they understandably feared that applying for health insurance could result in their family being torn apart.

And there’s also the problem of how Chicago’s nurses are employed. Currently, CPS employs about 300 nurses for over 500 schools. CPS currently fills this staffing gap with a less-than-ideal solution: contracting with private agencies to staff between 180-220 daily nursing assignments.

Read the full article about school nurse shortage in Chicago by Dennis Kosuth at Chalkbeat.