Bring Nurses Back to Austin ISD Elementary Schools
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Since returning to school this fall, AISD (Austin Independent School District) parents and students discovered there had been an extreme change to nursing staff. In an apparent effort to save money, AISD has removed Registered Nurses from campuses replacing them with SHAs (Student Health Advisers) connected via computer terminal and video chat to a Registered Nurse. This leaves a deficit in knowledge, capability and care for our students, including medically fragile students. Students with chronic conditions (as many as 27% of school-age children**) such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, seizure disorders, severe allergies and medication needs are now being managed by school staff without appropriate credentials. A SHA only needs to have a high school diploma and 6 months medical training.
This is very unsafe policy change and the children of Austin deserve better. We are fighting for our students and demand that a ratio* of 1 Registered Nurse to a maximum of 750 students be restored.
When students are healthy, attendance is up, academic success is up. When students are well cared for, unnecessary strains aren’t added to our city’s health infrastructure, parents take less unpaid leave and lastly a school district’s liability lessens.
This change is particularly damaging to the elementary school population which it affects the most. Children as young as 4 and up to age 12 attend AISD elementary schools. Many children in this age group may not be able to adequately voice their health concerns. One child’s “ear itch” is an ear infection and another’s is the beginning of a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction requiring immediate medical action. Video conferencing an actual Registered Nurse may cost valuable minutes that could dangerously change the result in an emergency situation. A SHA simply does not have the experience necessary to make these often life-changing decisions.
All stakeholders: parents, students, and teachers win when schools have adequate coverage with certified school nurses. Sick and injured children are cared for. Teachers can teach when a student gets sick. Parents don't get called to school unnecessarily, 911 system is not abused wasting taxpayer dollars. Hospital emergency departments are not unduly burdened.
Please consider signing this petition to bring AISD to the recommended Registered Nurse to student ratio*.
*This ratio followed the recommendation of National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
**2014 CDC Study: Results from the School Health Policies and Practices Study 2014; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Chronic Care: Making the Case for Ongoing Care
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