Feb 4, 2019
Public schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. are short 28 nurses and have been short for years, the district reported in December. Nurses dash from one school to another, trying to cover the district. Statewide, Maryland schools on average fall under the recommended level of one nurse for every 750 students. Nationwide, the lack is even higher. Some big cities and states like Michigan don’t even have one nurse for every 4,000 students.
Federal funding tripled the number of school nurses by the late 1960s, pressured by the rebellion of the black population. But districts reduced the number of school nurses again as part of cutting back on public service budgets, especially since 2000.
The advantages of nurses in schools were shown over a century ago. School nurses can test for hearing, vision, dental, asthma, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and other problems and signs of disease. They help families find treatment for medical problems. They can give immunizations and treat for special needs and emotional problems. Access to these services is often not available for working-class children. Nurses free teachers to focus on education. And students who get medical care miss fewer classes.