Are American children facing an unsafe environment at school without adequate health services?
This is the question raised in a recent article from Parenting.com, which investigates the lack of school nurses in American public schools.
Only 45 percent of schools have a full-time nurse, while 30 percent have a part-time nurse. The remaining 25 of public schools have no nurse at all.
The numbers are expected to drop even lower with tough budget cuts hitting schools.
According to Parenting.com,
There's no shortage of people willing to do the job, says Sandi Delack, president of [the National Association of School Nurses]; the issue is funding. Districts everywhere are under pressure to raise academic test scores, and to do so with ever-shrinking budgets. When inevitable cuts come, the first to go are programs not required by law. And, strikingly, very few states mandate that a nurse be in every school; individual districts decide if it's a priority.
School districts are cutting costs by laying off nurses, reducing their hours or replacing them with untrained employees. These cutbacks could mean danger for millions of American children with asthma, ADHD, food allergies and other health conditions.
Across the country, individual communities are facing shortages of school nurses. In Cincinnati, the majority of the district's nurses will soon find themselves out of a job. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the state Senate is considering a bill that would allow public schools to replace nurses with lower cost employees who lack the same level of medical expertise.
In Wichita, Kan., similar cuts are in the works, with schools considering replacing registered nurses with less trained, and therefore less expensive, practical nurses.
Registered nurse Mandy Pilla told The Wichita Eagle,
"I know we're not generating any measurable test scores, but there's so much going on with the children of our district, you wouldn't believe it... Nurses are a crucial part of schools."