School nurses face greater responsibility this year

Demand for school nurses growing

CAPE GIRARDEAU/SIKESTON, Mo. (KFVS) - As students return to school during the pandemic, the role of school nurse takes on added importance.

“At this point my secretary and I are kind of it,” Christine Ostendorf said.

Christine Ostendorf is the principal of St. Mary Cathedral School. She’s hiring a school nurse for the first time this year due to COVID-19 and CARES Act funding.

“I’m thrilled that they approved that for us, that way we can do what’s best for our students and our families during these unforeseen times,” Ostendorf said.

"We probably would have never gotten a nurse before."

She said the nurse will be full time starting now through December since that’s when the funding runs out.

Usually taking care of sick kids is a shared responsibility of the school’s staff and she said this nurse will be a big help.

“The nurse is going to be able to help us with contact tracing and being able to contact the right people and figure out what our best move is,” Ostendorf said.

The lead nurse at Sikeston public schools, Nikka Vaught said she felt contact tracing will be her biggest challenge this year.

“Trying to figure out who they were with, who they were around, those kinds of things especially during the school day,” Vaught said.

Other than that, she said she’s not too worried.

“I think it will be fine, I know as far as a person I’m really glad that schools opening back up. I love seeing my kids and I worry about them when they’re not here,” Vaught said.

“We’re thankful a nurse can help us to have the kids in the building the best we can,” Ostendorf said.

St. Mary Cathedral plans to have a nurse on staff by the end of this week.

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