Springfield Public School nurses return to work Tuesday. They’ll be receiving additional training in the next two weeks before a new school year begins during a pandemic.
Jean Grabeel, director of health services for the district, said they’ll train them on things like personal protective equipment or PPE, what symptoms to watch for that could indicate a case of COVID-19 and when to isolate a student. There will also be online training available to them.
When nurses return to their offices in each SPS school building, they’ll have additional PPE provided to them. Grabeel said, in normal times, that’s typically a pair of gloves. “But now we also have masks, shields, disposable gowns, in addition to the gloves."
Nurses have been asked to work with principals at their schools to identify an area for isolation should someone develop symptoms of COVID-19. And if a student tests positve, the child’s parents will be contacted, and they’ll be asked to get in touch with their healthcare provider to determine if a COVID-19 test is needed.
Grabeel said they’re working with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, CoxHealth, Mercy and Jordan Valley Community Health Center to find ways to refer students quickly for testing.
“I just met with Mercy and Cox and Jordan Valley and the health department this past week. We’re still in conversations about what that will look like for our students, especially for those that then would not have a provider, so that we would be able to get them in quickly,” said Grabeel.
If a student tests positive, she said, the district will follow up with the health department and begin contact tracing—notifying anyone who’s been in close contact with the positive individual. Quarantining an entire class would be a possibility, which is what happened at Rountree over the summer.
Grabeel urges parents to monitor their child’s health once the school year begins on August 24 and keep them home if they’re sick.