Caught Between Parents And Politicians, Nurses Fear Another School Year With COVID-19
Enlarge this image Nurses work at a COVID-19 testing day for students and school faculty at Brandeis Elementary School on in Louisville, Ky. Jon Cherry/Getty Images Jon Cherry/Getty Images Not long ago, Denver Public Schools nurse Rebecca Sposato was packing up her office at the end of a difficult school year. She remembers looking around at all her cleaning supplies and extra masks and thinking, "What am I going to do with all this stuff?" It was May, when vaccine appointments were opening up for the majority of adults and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were loosening mask guidance. "I honestly thought we were trending down in our COVID numbers, trending up in our vaccine numbers," she says. "And I thought the worst was over." Now, four months later, the pandemic is already upending the new school year across the country, as the highly transmissible delta variant continues to cause a spike in cases. In Arizona, coronavirus outbreaks are forcing thousands of children and teachers to quarantine. In Georgia, many districts that began classes in-person without mask mandates switched back to remote learning after the virus spread. And in Oregon, some districts delayed the start of the school year after teachers were exposed to possible infection. School nurses are tasked with caring for the health and safety of children at schools, and managing a third school year in a pandemic has put even more strain on those in a profession already facing staffing shortages. It's Groundhog Day for overwhelmed school nurses Katherine Burdge is a school nurse in Tampa, Fla., where classes started at the beginning of August amid a struggle between school districts and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who threatened to cut state funding for public schools that required students and staff to wear masks.