Could Keeping School Nurses on Staff Decrease the Spread of the Flu?

The staples of the new school year: freshly sharpened pencils, brand new composition notebooks, and the tissues for the flu. Despite an ever increasing expectation for the flu cases of the upcoming year, schools are eliminating school nursing positions across the nation.

Because of the education cuts affecting most American states, schools are losing their health care providers. Many nurses aren't employed full-time by schools, and some areas share nurses between. This hardly creates an environment where a nurse is able to build relationships with the students treated, which may mean that cases of the flu will be caught late, causing more severe symptoms than if the student had been monitored and treated early, by a school nurse.

Furthermore, health care professionals have anticipated that the upcoming year will see more cases of swine flu than in years past, which could account for higher numbers of flu in general, some growth factor 9. Without school nurses providing part of the health care for their students, these cases are apt to become more severe, potentially requiring hospitalization, adding even more stress to an already overworked hospital environment, and placing a greater burden on hospital nurses.

2009 will bring both swine and seasonal flu: both seasonal and swine. Because of the swine flu, many health care professionals are expecting more than twice the number of flu cases as in previous years. School age people make up a quarter of those affected by the flu, as reported by the Center for Disease Control.School nurses should be the first step in stopping the spread of the flu, yet nurses are loses are losing jobs rather than getting hired, even when they're needed most.

Although tight budgets may cause schools to cinch their belts in order to cut costs, the number of nurses being put out of a job (with as many as seven states firing school nurses altogether), student health is being compromised in an effort to move funding to other areas. Even more states are considering doing away with nurses as well, which can only create more problems in the long run. States that are continuing their school nurse policy are still overburdening their health care professionals, as the Center for Disease Control has suggested that only 750 students should be monitored by a single nurse. The National Association of School Nurses has discovered that the average school employs one nurse to every 1100 students.

The spread of the flu can only be hastened without appropriate intervention tactics. Amy Garcia of the National Association of School Nurses stated that "Now's not the time to be cutting school nurses. I think this flu will spread very quickly, and what we don't know is how deadly It will be."

Though teachers can remind their students to wash their hands until their faces turn blue, without the benefit of a solid network of educated nurses and health care workers, the number of cases of flu could be more severe than ever, and will spread quicker than in years past.