Local News

Spread of H1N1 puts more responsibility on Wake teachers

Posted November 5, 2009

The spread of the H1N1 virus has Wake County teachers taking on more responsibilities.

In the past, a sick student would be sent to the nurse's office. But in Wake County, 65 nurses cover 153 schools. Most schools in Wake County have a nurse on staff only once a week.

Teachers take on nursing role Teachers take on nursing role

"You juggle to make it all work," nurse Gina Cornick said. She divides her time between three schools.

When a nurse is not available, North Carolina law allows trained lay people to take care of the sick. That leaves teachers to determine if students are sick enough to be sent home.

"The staff is very well trained," Cornick said.

"We spend a great deal of our time doing staff training at the beginning of the year and throughout the year. They know to call us with questions."

Dillard Drive Elementary School teacher Heather Smith says she must sometimes stop teaching to care for her students.

"At times, I have to stop my instruction in order to take their temperature or ask, 'Have you used the rest room?' ... It's a balancing act," she said.

Dillard Drive Elementary saw 161 absences last week. There have been days when up to 10 percent of the student body was out sick.

For teachers, flu season adds up to a heavier workload -- taking care of sick students while still trying to teach the healthy ones.


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  • Tired of thoughtlessness Nov 6, 2009

    I think this responsibility is the parent's and it should be mandatory to leave a working cell phone and work/home number. It should also be mandatory to pick your child up if they are sick, especially around flu season. It is not fair at all to the other children. My child was sick last week, and the doctor said it was not the flu. He had a fever earlier in the day with vomiting, so to be on the safe side, I kept him home the next day as well.

  • IMHO05 Nov 6, 2009

    You've got that right lbdancer3, I totally agree! Had to deal with that too.

  • lbdancer3 Nov 6, 2009

    Children just don't get sick with runny noses either. Sometime it relates to the digestive system and you have to deal with that and finding a change of clothes. It's all kind of hard to do when there is no assistant and you can't leave the room to go get these things plus monitor them in the bathroom while they get cleaned up. Most people don't have a clue about the things that go on in a classroom other than being able to teach.

  • IMHO05 Nov 6, 2009

    Having been employed by the "system", I can tell you that the nurse is only there one day a week. The nurse covered 4 schools last year. And thanks to busing, when we would call parents of a child who was bussed in, we usually heard some excuse. My favorite one was--I don't even know where the school is! The child would then sit in the front office all day, only to have to ride home on the bus for hour at the end of the day and spread their germs to other kids. We would send a child home with a fever one day, only to have the parents send them right back next day, less than 24 hours later. Please keep your children home until they are well, they are your responsibility!

  • time4real Nov 6, 2009

    are you sure teachers have time with all the work and Wednesday early release meetings? I thought they were complaining heavily about having to notate, document and attend a Del Burns creation that only caused them more work? But they do get free tacos.
    I just didn't know teachers had time to wipe Johnny and Suzy's noses too, man, they are miracle workers!

  • lbdancer3 Nov 6, 2009

    I called a parent one time and told them that their child had a temperature of 104 and they just said SOOOOOOOOOOOOO! At least half of the numbers given are nonworking. There used to be some major companies in the wake county area that would not let you speak to a person even if the principal called. I called 10 different places one time during a medical emergency and couldn't get the parent. I left messages everywhere and she finally called back. This happened almost weekly and would take 45 to 60 minutes out of teaching time. Parents, make sure the school has the correct numbers in order to reach you.

  • kittiboo Nov 6, 2009

    Add to that the kids who DO need to go home but their parents can't be reached or WON'T come pick them up! The poor kids end up sitting in the classroom or front office miserable and possible spreading their germs.

  • lbdancer3 Nov 6, 2009

    Those nurses also have home visits to make for students with life threatening illnesses during the week. Parents!!! Keep your children home if they are sick. Fever free for 24 hours doesn't mean that if in the morning they have no fever send them on to school. You must wait for a total of 24 hours of no fever. Make arrangements now for the care of your child if they must be out of school. Hopefully employers will be more tolerant of parents having to stay home with their children. Afterall they shouldn't want you bringing the germs to work either.

  • HanginTough Nov 6, 2009

    What teacher asssistants? They were the first to go when lady Bev rolled into office. You know the candidate that the teacher union endorsed???? And if there are some they are being split between three and four classrooms.

  • howdiditgettothis Nov 5, 2009

    The article says:

    But in Wake County, 65 nurses cover 153 schools. Most schools in Wake County have a nurse on staff only once a week........

    Am I missing something? How could 65 nurses cover 153 schools ONLY once a week?

    I'm not a math major, but seems to me that almost 3 days a week would be covered per school.