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School nurse shortage in Pinellas County, school starts Monday

Pinellas County

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas County School District said they’re actively hiring for school nurses, as are many school districts around the country.

The school district spokesperson said Friday that there is already a nationwide shortage but then when you add on the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic and schools reopening, they’re in need of permanent nurses.

“It’s been amplified this year because of COVID,” said Sara O’Toole, the Pinellas County School Health Services Managing officer.

“There are lots of vacancies because people are requesting leave due to COVID, retired or resigned due to COVID,” O’Toole said.

8 on your side spoke with 2 moms who both have kids going back to brick and mortar school Monday to see if they’re concerned.

“Yeah I would say it’s important to have nurses at school to assess a situation, especially in the case of an injury that may be to the head or something,” said LesAnn Monahan who has a child going into kindergarten.

“I don’t know, I’m not really concerned,” Vicki Henderson said. She continued, “School nurses, I didn’t even know we still had school nurses to be honest. If my kids are to get hurt they just call me and I come to get them,” Henderson said.

The school district said no matter what, students will be taken care of. They say there are 125 schools in the county, 17 without permanent nurses. However, temporary nurse agencies will fill in until the permanent positions are filled.

“The nurses are getting enhanced PPE, personal protective equipment, we have different protocols and guidelines for the nurses to follow,” O’Toole said.

O’toole said they’re taking extra precautions to protect nurses and students from COVID. Instead of working out of an office, nurses will have mobile units to go to the students.

She said they do a lot more than boo-boos and bandaids. “School nurses check to make sure everyone has their vaccinations if the child is sick or injured does the child need further care or need to go home. A nurse in the time of COVID is even more important than before,” O’Toole said.

To apply for a school nurse position go the Pinellas County School District’s website.

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