There are about 40,000 CMS students diagnosed with a chronic illness, and many of them depend on school nurses. But many schools only have nurses on campus a few days a week, and some parents worry it could put their children in danger.
Five-year-old Evie Delmas was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and is learning how to check her blood sugar. It's something her mom helps her with up to eight times a day.
“I watch her, and she's basically with me 24 hours a day,” Amy Delmas said.
Later this month, Evie will start kindergarten at a CMS elementary school. Her mom hoped a school nurse could keep an eye on Evie and help with injections. She said she found out the school only has a nurse two days a week because of budget constraints.
"I don't understand it. I would think that if there was a need for a nurse every day, that it would be at the elementary school level," Amy Delmas said.
CMS nurses are employed through the county Health Department. Right now, there are 117 school nurses for the district's 141,000 students. That breaks down to 1 nurse for every 1,200 students. The federal recommendation is 1 nurse for every 750 students.
"We've improved, but we haven't gotten to the level where we feel we're comfortable yet," County Health Director Dr. Wynn Mabry said.
Mabry said CMS needs 70 more nurses to meet the federal recommendation. In the past decade, the district has more than doubled its number of nurses, but in the past few years that number has stayed flat.
Parents can work with schools on an action plan and have other school employees step in on days when there's no nurse. Still, Evie's mom wants a trained medical professional to deal with her daughter and plans to visit Evie's school on the days the nurse is not around.
"If that's what I have to do to make sure that she's where she needs to be, then that's what I'll do," Delmas said.
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