School nurses are on the front lines supporting our children’s health. They are often the first responders when a child is sick, injured, or suffers an anaphylactic reaction at school. Yet, according to the National Association of School Nurses, only 45 percent of public schools have a full-time nurse available to students and another 30 percent of schools only have a part-time nurse.
As steep cuts have affected state and local budgets, it’s often the school nurse that was pulled from duty or forced to share time amongst a number of schools to the detriment of student health.
To help restore access to school nurses in the most needy school districts, the Nurses for Under-Resourced Schools Everywhere Act or NURSE Act has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Jon Tester of Montana. The act allows schools and state agencies to apply for federal grants to be used to hire more nurses and improve student health. The grants will be administered by The US Department of Education.
Says Senator Tester, a former teacher:
“Improving the health of our students will help them succeed in the classroom. Kids who are sick can’t learn. Often times schools are the only place children receive health care and increasing the number of nurses in our schools will remove some of the barriers that have kept some students from reaching their full potential.”
To ensure the investment in school nursing continues once the federal funding provided by the act expires, state and local districts are required to fund at least 25% of costs of the program to start with their share increasing over time, though a district can receive an exemption in the case of extreme need.
The act is supported by the National Association of School Nurses, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Trust for America’s Health. You can see the text of their endorsements here.
Please join SnackSafely.com in supporting the NURSE Act by contacting your congressional representatives and urging them to pass the legislation. We are firm believers that school nurses play an invaluable role in supporting the health and safety of our children and that every school should have access to a nurse throughout the day.
- S.2572 – NURSE Act – Congress.gov
- Tester introduces bill to improve student health – www.tester.senate.gov