Hey, MAYOR: Why Can’t DC Do What Pediatricians Recommend And Have Full-Time Registered Nurses In Each Public School?

So, the city council’s health committee passed unanimously the other week a bill that establishes that each DC public school will have a registered nurse for 40 hours every week. Which is great news–but even if the council votes the bill into law (which is expected), without funding the law cannot be enforced.

Worse, the situation that we currently face will continue, which is that a significant portion of our public schools—many of them with the poorest students in DC—will continue to lack full-time nursing coverage.

Here is a spreadsheet that the department of health sent me last week, showing current and proposed nurse staffing for all DC public schools, both DCPS and charter schools.

This note came with it:

“The majority of schools receive 40 hours of coverage provided by either a school nurse or allied health staff. 68% of schools have 40 hours of coverage compared to around 56% at this time last year. Currently, a total of 55 schools receive less than 40 hours of health suite coverage but all receive at least 20 hours of nursing coverage.

“Please note that this schedule represents a temporary staffing plan, as our goal is to provide 40 hours of total health suite coverage to all schools with approved health suites. [Ed. Note: What happens in schools without “approved health suites”?] Due to nursing workforce shortages across the country and in our local region, there are currently not enough Children’s School Services (CSS) employed nurses and allied health professionals to achieve our goal. We are continuing to work aggressively with CSS to actively recruit new professionals. Additionally, the SHSP responds to daily changes in staffing due to nurse availability and changing clinical needs of students. Since the start of the school year, short-term shifts in nursing coverage have been required to accommodate daily and frequent needs for health care. We communicate the status of coverage with schools directly when changes are made on a daily basis, and provide staffing updates to our education partners bi-weekly.”

While I appreciate getting this information within a few days of requesting it (and not via FOIA request, either!), it certainly doesn’t provide warm fuzzies.

Here are the 55 schools (by my count, 19 charter schools, the rest DCPS) that currently do not have a full-time nurse, along with each school’s hours of current nursing coverage per week:

Ward 1 (6 total):

CHOICE Academy: 36
Cooke: 32
Oyster-Adams: 28
DC International: 28
Howard Middle: 28
Next Step/LAYC: 32

Ward 3 (9 total):

Deal: 32
Hearst: 32
Janney: 32
Eaton: 32
Key: 24
Mann: 32
Oyster-Adams: 24
Stoddert: 24
Wilson: 32

Ward 4 (4 total):

MacFarland MS: 24
Powell: 24
Shepherd: 32
Perry Street Prep: 24

Ward 5 (12 total):

Dunbar: 24
Burroughs: 24
Luke C. Moore: 32
McKinley Tech HS: 36
McKinley Tech MS: 20
Phelps: 24
City Arts and Prep: 24
KIPP College Prep: 32
Washington Math: 24
DC Prep MS: 32
Inspired: 32
Mundo Verde: 32

Ward 6 (2 total):

Logan Montessori: 24
Cesar Chavez: 24

Ward 7 (10 total):

Drew: 32
Randle Highlands: 32
Thomas: 32
Woodson: 32
DC Scholars: 32
Friendship Collegiate: 20
Integrated Design: 24
KIPP Smilow: 32
Maya Angelou: 36
DC Prep Benning: 24

Ward 8 (12 total):

Anacostia: 24
Ballou: 32
Garfield: 32
Hart: 32
ML King: 32
Moten: 32
Patterson: 32
Savoy: 32
Simon: 32
Stanton: 32
Democracy Prep: 24
Apple Tree Douglas Knoll: 24

To see prior years’ nurse staffing in our public schools, click here (thank you, FOIA request).

And while we’re at it, you might consider signing this petition for full-time nurses in all our DC public schools AND giving the mayor and her deputies below a jingle, since they’re actually able to fund full-time nurses in each school and yet appear unhappy with that idea:

Muriel Bowser, mayor: muriel.bowser@dc.gov

Rashad Young, city administrator: rashad.young@dc.gov

John Falcicchio, the mayor’s chief of staff: john.falcicchio@dc.gov

Lindsey Parker, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff: lindsey.parker@dc.gov

Jennifer Reed, chief performance officer: jennifer.reed@dc.gov

Beverly Perry, senior advisor: beverly.perry@dc.gov

Intrieri Alana, director, office on policy and legislative affairs: intrieri.alana@dc.gov

Laquandra Nesbitt, director, department of health: laquandra.nesbitt@dc.gov

Hyesook Chung, deputy mayor for health and human services: hyesook.chung@dc.gov

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