School nurses lean on each other to get by


School nurses’ responsibilities have increased following the return to school during the pandemic.

Brynn Sullivan, Amherst-Pelham Regional High School

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The Graphic, Amherst-Pelham Regional High School, Amherst, MA

Robbin Suprenant is a school nurse at ARHS and the nurse manager for the ARPS district and nurse Mary O’Brien works with her side by side at ARHS. School nurses always had a busy day before the pandemic, but now their responsibility has mushroomed to include many other tasks related to monitoring students’ health and keeping everyone safe.

A typical day for Suprenant and O’Brien involves coming in to answer emails, greeting students who come in for medical help, administering meds that students take at school, handing out masks, and giving students COVID tests.

According to Suprenant, it’s a busy and overwhelming job at times. “I don’t have free time, I am often interrupted during lunch,” she said. “Being a nurse means no time to relax, no time to sit, no time to walk, and very little time to have conversations with other students and teachers.”

The district is currently hiring new nurses since some have left the district due to these stressors.

Despite this newfound stress, before the pandemic Suprenant and O’Brien loved having time to build relationships with staff and students. “Before COVID, students and staff would stop by to say hello and I had time to have one on one conversations,” Suprenant said.


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