Local Nurses Committee


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school nurse school house

School Nurses

There are 86,000 public schools in the United States, with over 53 million students enrolled, and over 20 million of them have chronic health conditions.


School nurses are the watchful eyes and ears of the nation's children during school hours. They are often the only primary care providers that children see on a regular basis. Children who used to stay at home when ill now go to school instead, often because both parents work. Many children with severe health problems who used to be enrolled in special schools or receive tutoring now are enrolled in classes with healthier children.


School nurses don't just dole out bandages anymore. They administer medication and monitor medication response, respiratory status, seizure patterns and blood glucose levels. School nurses monitor students for parasites, skin infections, infectious diseases, and sexual and physical abuse. More than 97 percent of school nurses care for students with diabetes; more than 95 percent care for students with seizures; and more than 93 percent care for students with chronic and severe asthma.


Unfortunately, there are far too few school nurses in our schools to care for the children who rely on them. In July 2002, the AFT Convention adopted a resolution calling for a fulltime school nurse in every school building. As a result, the AFT recently launched a new campaign, 'Every Child Needs a School Nurse.' Public awareness is a key component to getting a full-time nurse in every school building. Many parents are completely unaware that there is not a school nurse in their child's school. The campaign includes materials to help educate the public and policymakers on the vital role that school nurses play in the health and education of our children.


AFT Healthcare provides policy, collective bargaining, research and legislative support to the AFT's 15,000 school nurses. School nurse representatives sit on the AFT Healthcare Program and Policy Council, and the AFT Healthcare School Nurse Subcommittee meets regularly to advise the union on school nurse issues.  ~ http://www.aft.org/yourwork/healthcare/schoolnurses/


National Association for School Nurses, "Healthy Children Learn Better! School Nurses Make a Difference." Available at http://www.nasn.org/


Every Child Needs a School Nurse (Resolution adopted by the AFT Convention 2002)




WHEREAS, every child must be ready to learn, having their basic needs first met so that they may achieve optimal physical, emotional, social and educational development and be prepared for full participation in society; and


WHEREAS, a professional registered nurse certified by the appropriate state agency provides unique and valuable services to students, parents and school personnel; and


WHEREAS, through public schools, communities can work together in unprecedented ways to eliminate barriers to learning and to provide access to healthcare for children and families; and


WHEREAS, the country's school nurses are pivotal members of a coordinated school health system, delivering services to children and, thereby, eliminating health disparities and barriers and supporting academic success for all children; and


WHEREAS, school nurses provide vital links between public and private resources and programs, collaboration between schools and health and human service agencies to bring school and community services to schools, and support efforts to connect families to insurance programs to meet the needs of children and families; and


WHEREAS, school nurses create and maintain safe school environments; provide mandatory health education, health screenings and immunizations; deliver early intervention services; design wellness-driven programs; and provide vital medical services to students with chronic and acute illnesses; and


WHEREAS, these essential services require specially educated and experienced professional personnel:



RESOLVED, that the AFT support school nurses as providers of necessary healthcare for children that ensures academic success; and


RESOLVED, that AFT Healthcare, through its program and policy council and school nurse subcommittee, develop and implement a public relations campaign to educate policymakers and the public about the significant role that school nurses play in the lives of our nation's children; and


RESOLVED, that to enhance the educational process for students, the AFT support the services of a professional certified registered nurse in every school; and


RESOLVED, in addition to having at least one full-time school nurse in every school, AFT support the ratio of students for each professional certified registered nurse to be 1:750 or fraction thereof for regular students, 1:225 or fraction thereof for mainstreamed students, or 1:125 or fraction thereof for severely/profoundly handicapped students; and


RESOLVED, that the AFT, its affiliates and locals lobby state legislatures for legislation requiring a school nurse in every school to provide necessary medical services to our children; and


RESOLVED, that AFT locals work to negotiate language in public school contracts calling for the employment of at least one school nurse in every school.