School nurses face 'challenging' year with staff shortage

Elaina Athans Image
Friday, September 10, 2021
School nurses face 'challenging' year with staff shortage
NCDHHS recommends one school nurse for every 750 students. Most districts in Central North Carolina aren't close to realizing that goal.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are staffing shortages in many different fields and the school nursing industry is no exception. Several Wake County school nurses are servicing more sites than ever.

"It can be challenging," said Wake County school nurse Maureceia Brewington.

She bounces between three Raleigh schools -- Martin Middle, Partnership Elementary and Joyner Elementary -- in addition to lending a helping hand at testing and vaccination sites.

"Typically, we do have two schools apiece, and now several of us are covering three or more school assignments," said Brewington. "It does limit the amount of time that we are able to be on-site at each of those individual schools."

There is more pressure these days for school nurses to fill the gap.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends one school nurse for every 750 students.

Many districts weren't even able to do that going into the pandemic.

The majority of districts in the ABC11 viewing area were lagging for the 2019-2020 school year. Johnston saw the biggest gap.

Durham County Public Schools said there is one school nurse for every three schools and there are several job vacancies.

Ten positions are also open in Cumberland County, where the district is averaging one school nurse to every 2,000 students.

"A shortage is always hard to manage through," said Brewington.

She says there has been an increase in students coming in and being checked out. School administrators want to take cautions with COVID-19 and the demands could grow as we approach fall.

"We're doing what we can to help to curtail the potential impact of flu and COVID in the school setting," said Brewington.