School Nurses: Keeping School Children, Families, and Communities Healthy

School nurses are particularly integral to healthcare access for children whose health is impacted by social determinants. In fact, many consider school nurses the hidden healthcare system for vulnerable youth. Widespread understanding of the breadth and depth of professional school nursing is needed to ensure the growth of this critically important nursing specialty and to protect children's health.

School nurses advocate for healthier environments by identifying and developing health and wellness policies. Examples include self-carry rules for rescue inhalers, bus idling policies to mitigate air pollution, and standards on food in the classroom.

School nurses are trained to identify risk factors and detect illness at the population level, making them crucial to public health and surveillance efforts. Surveillance activities include reporting disease outbreaks (for example, measles or mumps) to public health departments. School nurses are playing an important role in the current COVID-19 crisis by coordinating health and nutrition needs while students are out of school and ensuring that schools are ready when students return.

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