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No new school nurse in Sunnyside schools…yet

The Sunnyside School Board at its regular meeting last night (Thursday) did not approve the funding to hire a new school nurse.

The board heard from nurses already serving students in the school district, who said the addition of another nurse would help improve student safety and flexibility in the current nurse schedules.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rick Cole said it would benefit students with health issues to restore a school nurse position that was cut several years ago.

Nurse Debbie Kawakami said there are state standards for providing health services in the schools.

There are four medical classifications given for student health care needs. They include medically dependent, medically fragile, medically complex and health concerns.

Kawakami said there are no medically dependent students in the Sunnyside School District currently.

However, there are numerous students who are medically fragile.

Those students need to be close to medical services for asthma, diabetes, allergies and other severe medical situations. As a result, the school district has been having those students attend schools that are closer to the hospital.

One nurse, Becky Norem, has been dividing her time between Harrison Middle School and Chief Kamiakin Elementary School to tend to medically fragile students.

Cole said that is not an ideal situation because in the event of a crisis the nurse must tend to the crisis without back-up coverage.

School Board Director Lorenzo Garza made a motion to approve the addition of a school nurse, stating he supported the restoration of the position due to experience and a concern for student safety.

School Board Director Sandra Linde said she wanted to hear from the principals before approving the position.

The vote ended in a 2-2 tie, and the item was tabled to be presented again at the September school board meeting.

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