Checking for fevers, fixing scraped knees, and sending kids home from COVID risk… all are tasks for school nurses headed back to school

The school nurses office is accustomed to treating upset stomachs, checking for fevers and fixing scraped knees.  But this year, they will be dealing with a lot more than playground injuries and the flu.

Opal Hostert has wanted to be a nurse her whole life.

“I like being able to help out other people if they’re needing something,” said Hostert.

This year will be her seventh year as a school nurse with the De Soto School District.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been that long… but it has!” said Hostert.

But even with her years of experience, this will be a very different school year than usual.

“I think this school year is going to be somewhat difficult, because all the COVID symptoms kind of mimic influenza, just the common cold, so we don’t really know. It’s hard to know when it could be COVID and you should be sending these students home,” said Hostert.

She’s been busy all summer figuring out what the plan will be for this year.

“Getting our protocols in place, to make sure that if we should have a student that comes in and has COVID symptoms that we know what to do, where to isolate them, that kind of thing,” said Hostert.

The most put together plan for now;

“As soon as they would tell a teacher or a staff member, whoever they tell that they have those symptoms, we have to have a couple isolation rooms that are set up for them. So we would send them right to those rooms,” said Hostert.

The kids will be in the isolation rooms until they’re picked up by their families.

“I feel like we’re going to be sending a lot of students home… just because we don’t know,” said Hostert.

But, Hostert said she’d rather be safe than sorry.

The use of isolation rooms and being sent home could be universal among Wisconsin Schools. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released guidelines for school nurses regarding COVID-19, that included those precautions.