The North Central Educational Service District (NCESD) recently recognized over 60 school nurses and health room assistants with the 2021 Friend of Children Award. The presentation of the award honors the significant role health services staff play in ensuring schools are prepared to address COVID requirements in order to keep our schools, students, and communities safe.
In addition to ensuring compliance with frequently changing guidelines from national, state and regional health agencies, health services staff serve their districts through contract tracing, testing, sick room support, materials and equipment coordination, and staff, student and parent education, all while continuing to meet the standard requirements of their positions. Many hours have been spent ensuring that staff are well-prepared, processes are in place, and any signs of illness or potential outbreaks are quickly addressed.
Regional public health experts have noted that students are safer at school than outside of school, explained Cathy Meuret, the School Nurse Corps Director for NCESD. That level of safety stems from a controlled environment in which students, staff and visitors are screened before entering a school, isolation and quarantine timelines are followed, and masking, distancing and hygiene are routine expectations.
“These efforts, overseen by school nurses and health room assistants, have kept COVID transmission and outbreaks in schools to almost zero,” Meuret added. “Our region’s students have been able to return to in-person classroom instruction sooner and more safely compared to other regions in the state and country.”
The Friend of Children award was created in 1992 and recognizes outstanding individuals in the communities represented by the districts within the NCESD’s service area: Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties. With the desire to honor the best of the best in a school district or community, award recipients are selected based on the selfless and extraordinary contributions they’ve made to local schools in order to make their community better.
During a surprise event hosted via Zoom, the NCESD’s Superintendent, Dr. Michelle Price, recognized all school nurses and health room assistants serving North Central Washington schools. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and join the list of prestigious winners over the award’s history.
“The nurses throughout our North Central Washington region have worked beyond comprehension to support students and staff in their safe return to in-person learning. Without them, none of us would be in person today,” Dr. Price said. “We are full of gratitude for their dedication and commitment to our children.”