Editorial

How school nurses rose to the challenge of the COVID-19 front line

Children have not felt the impact of the pandemic as older people have, but are still affected by food poverty, safeguarding and the struggle to provide schooling

Children have not felt the impact of the pandemic as older people have, but are still affected by food poverty, safeguarding and the struggle to provide schooling

Whether a vaccine is going to be available in the new year or not the struggle with COVID-19 continues, with many commentators warning the pandemic will be with us for some time yet.

As we plunge into winter, with regional and local lockdowns being implemented across parts of the UK, our schools like the acute sector are on the front line.

If you are a school nurse or have a child at school you will know how challenging this constantly changing situation is.

    Children have not felt the impact of the pandemic as older people have, but are still affected by food poverty, safeguarding and the struggle to provide schooling

    Picture of bags containing meals for children
    Bags containing meals for children. Picture: Getty

    Whether a vaccine is going to be available in the new year or not the struggle with COVID-19 continues, with many commentators warning the pandemic will be with us for some time yet.

    As we plunge into winter, with regional and local lockdowns being implemented across parts of the UK, our schools – like the acute sector – are on the front line.

    If you are a school nurse or have a child at school you will know how challenging this constantly changing situation is.

    Doing the best for children involves providing them with an education while ensuring that public health is paramount, with constant updates on isolation for those with positive tests and their contacts.

    Schools take different approaches to education during the pandemic

    Schools are adopting different approaches to this, with some sending home whole year groups and others taking a more targeted approach.

    But the routine work of school nurses, like that of community and acute sector colleagues, must continue.

    Footballer Marcus Rashford has campaigned on food poverty among children
    Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has led a campaign to provide free meals for schoolchildren.
    Picture: BBC

    The flexibility of school nurses is demonstrated by innovations including marquees, mobile units, drive through clinics and even a football stadium being used for catch-up vaccinations.

    At the beginning of the pandemic it became apparent that children, other than those with life-limiting conditions and complex care needs, were not being affected by the virus as much as the older population.

    Risks of COVID-19 for children

    Although the risks with COVID-19 increase with age, there are effects for children too which can't be underestimated. There is evidence of concern about safeguarding of young people, for example, with evidence of a decrease in early referrals to social services.

    And light has been shed on widening health and social inequalities during through the high-profile campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford to provide meals for the poorest children.

    But what we cannot yet quantify are the long-term effects of the pandemic, such as its effect on children’s mental health.


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