Petition leads to bills requiring registered nurses at every public school

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The fight for a nurse at every public school in the state has reached the General Assembly.

Some supporters who have been pushing for the requirement are keeping a close eye on several proposed bills related to school nurses.

“There were some problems with her insulin pump and some mis-dosing that caused us to pull her out of school entirely,” parent and advocate Jennifer Natividad said.

Natividad says back in 2011 her daughter Annika was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She was seven and at the time she says Annika was not getting the care she needed at her public school, so she took her out and put her in private school. Last year Jennifer along with parents across the state started a petition to make nurses at every school a requirement.

 

“The biggest thing that I hear from people is ‘there isn’t a registered nurse in every school already? This isn’t already here?,'” said Natividad.

The issue has now gotten the attention of lawmakers. There is a bipartisan effort, HB 1046 and SB 366, to require every school have a nurse or one nurse per 550 students. A similar bill failed in a previous session.

“We can’t ask more of the secretaries, we can’t ask more of the unlicensed staff,” said Natividad.

She says she’s hoping to prevent a tragedy and believes a nurse could be the difference between life and death for some students.

“I think that an emergency could arise and people wouldn’t know what to do. I think that’s probably the biggest scare.”

Meanwhile critics have said the decision should be left to local school boards who may not have the funds to staff a nurse at every school.

“The biggest criticism is possibly the money aspect, and the cost of a life far outweighs any money aspect,” said Natividad.

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