by Eileen Duffey
Within a few days of schools reopening we sounded the alarm that the plan was failing due to the inordinate burden placed on the school nurses and the impossibility of simultaneously executing our responsibility to keep students safe in our pre-pandemic role, while managing pandemic safety in our schools, as well as partnering with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in epidemiological data collection.
Management acknowledged we were given 2 full time jobs yet promised relief has been non-existent, resulting in a hemorrhaging of nurses from the district. Lack of a compensation plan for extra hours has resulted in a Faustian choice for nurses, either work overtime for free or leave on time and risk liability or loss of our professional licenses.
Amid a national nursing shortage we have been unable to attract enough new nurses. Two recent hires quit during orientation once the impossible demands of our current jobs became apparent.
It is high time the board admit these realities and adjust accordingly.
Here is what it will take to restore balance to the school health program and enable nurses to provide the services our students deserve during a pandemic:
Provide Emergency Pandemic Medical Compensation to nurses retroactive to September at a professional rate for additional hours needed for documentation including working through lunch hour.
We need help and better nurse to student ratios.
Have nurses evaluated by similarly credentialed medical professionals, not principals.
This relief needs to come NOW to save the school health program.
As members of this school board you need to hold the Hite administration to account to make these vital changes happen as soon as possible.