South Orangetown Central School District

National School Nurse Day is May 6 and this year’s theme is “supporting students in times of crisis.” The District’s outstanding School Nursing Team composed of Riva Fisher, RN; Karen Fitzgibbons, RN; Jennifer Hind, RN; Maggie Keane, RN; Patricia Shalvey, RN; and, Karen Siegel, RN. These dedicated professionals play a critical role in our school health program by providing preventive and screening services, coordinating care for students with serious medical conditions, immunization monitoring and much more.

Fisher, the School Nursing Team Leader, fielded questions about how she and her colleagues are supporting students during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Q. As the Covid-19 pandemic began to unfold in the US, what were some of the steps that the District’s School Nursing Team took to monitor and protect the health of students and staff?

A. As we do on a daily basis, the nurses kept in communication with teachers, staff and administration regarding symptoms and signs to look for. Parents were called when necessary to discuss a student’s well being and recommendations were made when needed. We followed CDC and local DOH guidelines for attendance at school. We worked with our school facilities team on the cleaning and disinfecting of our buildings.

Q. How have our school nurses been supporting students and their families during the school closure?

A. Some of us have been in contact with families of students who have medical concerns that we addressed on a frequent or daily basis. Our concern for them, and for all students, doesn’t stop because we are not in our buildings. Rockland County has initiated a daycare program for children of first responders and SOCSD nurses have helped to staff the health needs of those sites.

Q. How will your team help to guide District planning for an eventual reopening?

A. Through the school closure, I’ve been working closely with Dr. Tesik (Executive Director of Pupil Personnel Services) to ensure a smooth transition and opening in regards to the health concerns of our students and staff.

As nurses, we are always concerned about transmission of disease. We continue to keep up with guidelines being set by the local and state departments of health, the CDC and recommendations from our state and national school nurse associations regarding the reopening of schools. New guidelines are being addressed by the CDC regarding certain medical conditions and treatments. We’ll continue to follow best practices and evidence-based guidelines for practice in our offices, and change, add, and adjust procedures as needed.

Riva Fisher