LOUISVILLE, Mississippi (WCBI) – Just over a month into the 2021 fall semester, COVID-19 continues to disrupt schools in Mississippi.
Added to this is the national shortage of school nurses.
However, this shortage does not have such a severe impact on the Louisville Municipal School District.
“If they’re showing symptoms of COVID … we can test these things at school, parents can pick them up and then you decrease the number of people they’ve come into contact with,” says Debbie Fryery, the director of operations. clinics at Winston Medical Center.
In 2015, the school district did not have the money to continue employing a school nurse. So Winston Medical moved to Fair Elementary.
“We decided to open the clinic, employ the nurse, nurse practitioner and receptionist,” says Fryery.
Of the 2,033 students in the Louisville School District, there are currently 14 in isolation and 18 in quarantine due to COVID-19, by School District Superintendent David Luke.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says schools should have at least one full-time nurse for every 750 students if possible.
Nurse practitioner Kali Rogers estimates that she only sees a maximum of about five students per day with symptoms of COVID-19.
“Most of your school nurses and clinics just work with a nurse, where they administer the medications and can make the decision to send the children home or not,” she says. “But we can actually diagnose and send drugs.”
Another advantage of running the clinic by Winston Medical is its ability to keep it as staffed as possible.
“Say my receptionist is away, my nurse is away, or my nurse practitioner is away,” Fryery says. “We can remove a nurse practitioner from one of our other clinics.
They’ve even seen other school districts adopt similar systems of care.
“We had other counties and surrounding areas that kind of mirrored what we did,” says Fryery. “From what we have been told now, it has increased their attendance a bit.”
Which could mean less time in quarantine and more time in class.