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Texas nurses urge schools to include school nurses in COVID-19 planning

The Texas Nurses Association, Texas School Nurses Organization and State Rep. Donna Howard provided recommendations on how nurses can be included.

AUSTIN, Texas — Students in Texas are scheduled to return to class this fall amid Gov. Greg Abbott's orders issued on June 18.

Teachers across the state have expressed concerns about returning to class as COVID-19 statistics have spiked in recent months. Many have spoken with KVUE about their concerns about in-person classes resuming – and now nurses in Texas are speaking out regarding safety precautions, too.

“We recognize the school nurse as a professional who has the knowledge to be able to support helping these students and staff return safely to school,” said Karen Schwind, a registered nurse and the president-elect of the Texas School Nurses Organization (TSNO). “What it might look like is the nurse being involved in the planning of the health screening forms, of what personal protective equipment might be determined for a student. It might be determining what equipment is necessary in the nurse office as opposed to what we saw last school year."

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The TSNO, Texas Nurses Association (TNA) and State Rep. Donna Howard issued a statement Monday to remind local school districts of the importance of including school nurses in the planning that needs to take place between now and the beginning of the semester.

The statement included the following general recommendations:

  • Determine universal precautions to implement in the classroom and around campuses. Train teachers and provide printed materials to help them empower students to participate in universal precautions.
    • Provide hand sanitizer for each classroom.
    • Require students to wear masks, as developmentally appropriate, and maintain physical distance from each other to the extent possible.
    • Keep students in their own cohorts and avoid mixing groups of students to the extent possible.
  • Create a way for individual students to report illness or exposure and shift to a virtual classroom while quarantining. Develop a process for reporting exposure to students, teachers and parents.
  • Update attendance policies in accordance with TEA guidelines to account for remote learning and asynchronous learning. Encourage students who need to isolate to use remote learning.
  • Prepare parents for the possibility of shifting quickly to virtual classrooms when needed. Provide tools and guidelines ahead of time so parents are ready to make arrangements.
  • Provide extended sick leave at full pay for teachers who have a fever or test positive for COVID-19. Teachers should wait three days after fever subsides and at least 10 days after symptoms start to return to the physical classroom.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has issued its safety guidelines and precautions for the fall. You can read about those guidelines here.

WATCH: Texas Education Agency: Students struggling to learn from home

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