"Over the nearly 20 years Marnie McKercher has been in school nursing, she’s seen the profession change — but perhaps never as quickly as it has this year, when a global pandemic put infectious disease mitigation at the top of her priorities list.
School nurses are no strangers to disease prevention and intervention, as they’re tasked with ensuring students are immunized against preventable illnesses such as the measles and tracking cases or outbreaks of other diseases identified by public health experts. It’s normally a small part of the job, said McKercher, the lead school nurse consultant for Aurora Public Schools.
But as COVID-19 took center stage in 2020, so too did more intense disease mitigation efforts. Over the summer, for example, nursing staff played a crucial role in providing and contextualizing relevant epidemiological data to help administrators decide how — or whether — they could safely reopen schools.
'That 5% to 10% of what we did is now probably closer to 95% or greater of what school nurses are doing,' said McKercher. 'We were watching (the coronavirus) like everybody else. We, just like everyone else, were surprised at how fast things transpired in March.'