New Mexico schools opening comes amid nurse shortage

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The hybrid reopening of New Mexico public schools will come amid a statewide nursing shortage, adding to the anxiety of parents and teachers.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports guidelines released by the New Mexico Public Education Department released last month have turned the spotlight onto school nurses.

Schools in New Mexico are reporting a lack of nurses.

Around 1 in 5 districts reported having less than one full-time school nurse, according to the Annual School Health Services Summary Report for the 2018-19 academic year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a minimum of one full-time professional school nurse in every school.

Additionally, the National Association of School Nurses recommends 750 students to one nurse for healthy students. But in case of students with more demanding medical needs that require daily services, that ratio should be lowered to 225 to one nurse, the association said.

Ashley Garcia, health services coordinator for the Safe and Healthy Schools Bureau of the New Mexico Public Education Department, said she didn’t know if these ratios could be affected by COVID-19.

New Mexico health officials reported Sunday an additional 203 novel coronavirus cases but no more known deaths. That puts the statewide total of confirmed COVID-19 infections at 13,256, with the death toll remaining at 513.

Every region in New Mexico meets that initial ratio of one nurse to 750 students except the Northwest region, which consists of 13 school districts and has one nurse for every 896 students.

At Farmington Municipal Schools, many of their schools must share nurses or fill those positions with health aides.

Farmington Municipal Schools spokeswoman Renee Lucero said the district has been working hard through the summer by performing screenings on bus drivers delivering meals and on staff members working inside the buildings.

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