Yan Lozanova: How did you “nurse” during remote learning?

Nurse Chris Kiley: Last spring, I called some families to see how they were doing and how the children were doing.

Zephyr Stoddard: What did you do?

Nurse Kiley: Most of the time I came to CASS and helped pack groceries and meals to send to families on the school bus. We sent home about 1,000 pounds of food, including fresh produce each week, as well as breakfasts and lunches. The food came from the Good Shepherd Food Bank and donations from the RSU71 community.

Yan: How is your work day different this year with COVID restrictions than it was last year?

Nurse Kiley: I wear a mask, of course, and see students as usual for illness, injuries and vision and hearing checks. I need to send home students more often and have them stay home until 24 hours after they are better.

Zephyr: Are you worried often when a kid comes down sick?

Nurse Kiley: I am concerned and stay in close contact with their parents.

Zephyr: They could have COVID-19?

Nurse Kiley: While we have had many students with symptoms of COVID-19, like a sore throat, no one has gotten COVID at school. CASS has had just one case of COVID, but that student got the virus at home.

Yan: Do you have to wear special masks and clothes when a sick kid comes to your office?

Nurse Kiley: I always wear a mask and will put on a gown, a face shield and goggles as needed.

Zephyr: Do you send kids home more often when they are sick this year?

Nurse Kiley: Unfortunately, yes, because the symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as many other cold and flu viruses.

Zephyr: What would make you send them home?

Nurse Kiley: If the student has one of the common COVID-19 symptoms: sore throat, cough, fever, difficulty breathing, recent loss of taste or smell or chills, I call the parents and recommend that they come get their child and call their doctor for advice, including a COVID-19 test.

If a student is sick with two or more other symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, headache, runny nose, congestion or muscle pain, I call the parent to pick up their child and watch for symptoms.

Yan: Have you had your COVID-19 vaccine yet?

Nurse Kiley: Yes, I had both in February.

Yan: How many COVID-19 patients have you dealt with?

Nurse Kiley: CASS has had just one positive case of COVID-19. I have seen many students with symptoms of COVID, but fortunately none have tested positive.

Zephyr: Is it harder being a school nurse now with COVID-19?

Nurse Kiley: Yes. I am busier, keeping track of students and staff with COVID symptoms, helping staff get their vaccines scheduled and certainly talking with parents more often about COVID. I also need to keep updated on the latest advice from the Center for Disease Control, which is the best source for scientific information and recommendations for COVID.

Yan: If you are out sick who takes over?

Nurse Kiley: The other nurses in RSU71 will help as needed.

Zephyr: Have you done any volunteering work in the community during COVID-19?

Nurse Kiley: Yes, I volunteered in a vaccine clinic in Belfast.

Yan: Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the community about being a school nurse during the COVID-19 school year?

Nurse Kiley: I am so happy that our school has stayed open! I am so surprised and happy that all students wear their masks and know to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. One young student calls it “hanitizer." I will be very happy when the pandemic is no longer a threat to our community, state, country and world.

Reprinted from The COVID Chronicle, a newspaper started by students in Nancy Nickerson's fourth grade class at Capt. Albert W. Stevens School about what it is like to attend school during the pandemic.