Small schools often skip the school nurse. Should they?
In Education Week, this article raised the question with most of the piece centered on budget cuts in larger public schools.
"The death of a student who got sick at a school with no full-time nurse on duty has renewed a nationwide debate over the importance of school nurses—and their vulnerability to budget cuts."
As one commenter added on the Education Week article,
Between head lice, vomit, temperatures, pink eye, injuries and frequent fliers for whatever need they need met at the time, school nurses are an essential part of any school day.
Seen any of those this year?
It becomes a question, like so many in our schools, about how far can we go with employees stretching outside their realms of core expertise. Some school leaders love to tout that their school does X, Y, or Z in-house. Some managers enjoy showing how they can squeeze unknown expertise from employees who perhaps, "didn't know they had it in them." (Then again, once you hire a professional, often you quickly see what you've been missing.)
Stretching your receptionist to handle the layout on your annual report might work out. But the Head or Board could have more than a bad font choice to explain if you require employees to feign expertise in legal, financial, or medical matters. (NB: Never papyrus font. No, never.)
One of the conversations I have with faculty is how to see the bright lines between their roles as 'student advisors' and the roles of school counselor or family therapist. See that progression? In the interest of the well-being of the students (and limiting the school's exposure), it's helpful for us to know our limits professionally and not act in a role that is, in terms of expertise, beyond our capacity. (We want the students to know when to ask for help; we can model that daily for them.)
So what should your (small) school do? One starting place would be to use your administrative team and perhaps your audit and risk committee (got one?) to assess the school's needs and exposure in sensitive areas such as finance/accounting, legal matters, and physical health and safety. Parents like to hear that you are proactive and taking the time to assess, audit, and plan for success in these sensitive areas. It is time well spent. (Maybe some good summer work! 😉