School nurses trying to stay ahead of H1N1

School nurses trying to stay ahead of H1N1

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DRAPER -- School nurses are busy dealing with cases of H1N1 and are trying to prevent future outbreaks, but they need parents' help to get that done.

We visited both a public and a private school on Wednesday and heard the same message: School nurses are doing everything possible on their end, now they need parents to keep sick kids home.

**Students per school nurse**
StateStudents per nurse
Vermont 275
New Hampshire 347
Massachusetts 419
Connecticut 460
Delaware 519
Alaska 530
Kansas 552
Wyoming 595
Maine 602
Rhode Island 632
Washington, D.C. 652
New Jersey 674
Missouri 748
New Mexico 780
Pennsylvania 832
Texas 841
Virginia 873
Iowa 889
South Carolina 901
Maryland 913
Alabama 936
New York 1,007
Indiana 1,022
Washington 1,060
Arkansas 1,084
West Virginia 1,159
South Dakota 1,195
Arizona 1,217
North Carolina 1,320
Mississippi 1,394
Nebraska 1,407
Tennessee 1,415
Georgia 1,734
Minnesota 1,803
Nevada 1,814
Louisiana 1,868
Kentucky 1,877
Colorado 2,101
California 2,240
Wisconsin 2,359
Idaho 2,368
Ohio 2,377
Florida 2,605
North Dakota 2,828
Illinois 2,893
Oklahoma 3,110
Montana 3,137
Oregon 3,142
Michigan 4,204
**Utah** **4,893**
Hawaii No school RNs

  • Natl. Assoc. of School Nurses
At Juan Diego High School it was Carolyn Schnurr versus the swine flu.

She said, "We've had 26 cases of confirmed H1N1 swine flu virus."

And Schnurr isn't going down without a fight. The registered nurse covers the entire Skaggs Catholic Center, which includes the high school and Saint John the Baptist middle and elementary schools; about 2,000 people total.

Teachers send potentially ill kids to her office, where they're isolated and vitals taken. If they have a fever of more than 99 degrees, they go home and get a follow-up from the nurse.

Schnurr said, "I personally call each and every one of them who've been documented as having flu-like symptoms."

In Utah the student to nurse ratio is 4,893 to 1. That ranks Utah 51 out of 52 nationally; ahead of only Hawaii, which does not have school nurses.

Schnurr is also running a health campaign "Spread the Word, Not the Flu;" complete with poster contest and prizes.

Nurses in the Granite School District are also working hard but have more ground to cover. Registered Nurse Kathy Briggs serves nine schools, about 5,900 students.

She said, "As far as the H1N1, I am not aware of any in the particular schools I cover."

The National Association of School Nurses recommends 225 students per nurse. The national average of students per nurse is 1,480 to 1.

According to the National Association of School Nurses, Utah is 51st in the nation when it comes to students per school nurse.

"We rely heavily on our staff, our secretaries to follow through on first aid and some of the things they're trained to do," Briggs said.

School nurses trying to stay ahead of H1N1

Briggs is educating students about the importance of proper hygiene and, like Juan Diego, her schools are also dotted with hand sanitizing stations.

She said, "If everybody would wash their hands and pay attention to that, a lot of our illness would be avoided."

The state school health consultant says more nurses in public schools would be very beneficial, but there isn't the budget for it right now, and they're worried they'll see even more cuts come the next legislative session.


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Sarah Dallof


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