Teachers required to treat students in medical situations

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A budget crunch and difficulty finding qualified people is part of the reason why nurses are needed in schools.

In Guilford County, the health department is in charge of hiring those medical professionals.

More than half of the schools in the state don’t have a nurse dedicated to one school. In Guilford County, nurses split time between multiple schools.

Checking the blood sugar of diabetic students or handling a medical crisis is usually the job of a school nurse.

“There’s nothing like someone who is trained how to inject insulin or some who is truly trained to identifying the onset symptoms of diabetes,” said Kenya Donaldson, a third-grade teacher at Brooks Global.

Right now nurses are only in some Piedmont Triad schools once a week, leaving teachers like Donaldson in charge of taking over.

“We do it happily but we know it’s at a cost,” Donaldson said.

Donaldson is licensed to teach third grade but only trained to handle a medical emergency.

Something she says has students losing in two areas.

“While I’m checking on Sally’s bruise on her leg, the rest of my class is not being taught. Or while I’m finding a coke to help someone stabilize their sugar, the rest of the class is not getting that opportunity,” Donaldson said.

The Guilford County School system has 42 nurses and each one is responsible for three to four schools.

That’s about 1,700 students who could need their care.

The American Nurses Association recommends one nurse be dedicated to each school.

“Our students deserve to have someone caring for their medical needs that is qualified to care for their medical needs,” Donaldson said.

Guilford County School teachers sit through an annual training session that teaches them how to handle medical conditions, which can be stressful for teachers like Donaldson who are not medical professionals.

“All of that is happening right in our classrooms or in our offices with individuals who do not have medical licenses to do that,” Donaldson said.

While they have budget constraints, the health department is always advocating for new nursing positions.

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