School nurses have been provided with updated guidance to help protect themselves, school children and teachers from COVID-19 as schools begin to reopen.
Nursing union the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has teamed up with three other professional nursing organisations to make sure school nurses have sufficient information regarding the methods of infection control in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within schools.
The guidance includes making sure that children who are unwell do not attend school and providing advice to parents about isolating if they or their children are displaying symptoms. Nurses will also be encouraging pupils, teachers and other school staff to regularly wash their hands, as well as helping with social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The guidance – which you can download here – has been developed by the RCN in conjunction with the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, the Institute for Health Visiting and the School and Public Health Nurses Association, in line with existing advice given by Public Health England.
There are almost 4,000 registered school nurses in the UK, many of whom continued to work remotely while schools were closed carrying out consultations via phone, video calls, emails and text chats. Their usual duties include carrying our health assessments on pupils and supporting mental health and wellbeing with children, their families and the wider school community.
The Royal College of Nursing’s Professional Lead for Children and Young People’s Nursing, Fiona Smith said;
Social distancing and good hand hygiene are the most effective methods of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Nurses must feel safe and confident in supporting pupils and teachers.
Alison Morton, Director of Policy and Quality at the Institute for Health Visiting, added;
School nurses, alongside health visitors, are an essential part of the country’s support structure for children and their parents during this public health pandemic.
This welcomed guidance supports safe and effective service delivery at a time when families and services are facing considerable challenges.
Schools in England began to reopen this week following the coronavirus lockdown, with Reception and Year 1 children returning along with those in Year 6. Today it was announced that all schools in Wales will reopen on 29 June, with Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams saying a four-week term ending on July 27th would give pupils, staff and parents time to prepare for a “new normal” when the next academic year begins in September.