Giving Compass' Take:

• Maria Carter explains the importance of the close, in-person relationships and monitoring that happens between children with chronic conditions and school nurses. 

• As COVID-19 forces school closures, school nurses are concerned that parents might not catch medical issues that they would. How can school nurses creatively check-in with students they may be concerned about? 

• Read about prioritizing mental health in early education during COVID-19. 

Lisa Marlow is worried about her students. Marlow is a school nurse and educator with the Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186.

The district serves primarily low-income students in a rural part of southern Illinois.

When school is in session, Marlow says having eyes on students, especially those with chronic conditions like Type 1 diabetes or asthma, is crucial.

“The biggest reason why it's a huge part of our job is because people don't get to access health care anywhere else, or won't or don't have the means to. I have high school students who don't have insurance,” Marlow says.

Schools in Illinois are closed through the end of the current school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and students may be missing out on more than just face-to-face time with teachers. They also might be missing an important link in their access to health care: school nurses. Without daily access to students, school nurses like Marlow fear that warning signs of illness or abuse may go unnoticed.

Gryfinski says most school nurses aren’t legally able to conduct telehealth visits, the go-to workaround for most health care providers during the pandemic. Illinois law dictates that unless a school nurse is working under the license of a physician, they’re unable to conduct telehealth services. Gryfinski says some states are looking at how policies can be changed to ensure school-based health care providers can also use telehealth services to provide physical and mental health services to students.

In the meantime, Gryfinski says school nurses across the state are still checking in with students using a variety of mediums.

Read the full article about school nurses by Maria Carter at Harvest Public Media.