AISD task force assigned to study COVID-19 scenarios doesn’t include school nurses

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN has obtained a comprehensive list of members for AISD’s re-entry task force. The group will be assigned to consider and discuss possibilities for students to safely return for on-campus learning in the fall.

More than 100 names are listed on the document, classified based on department or role within the district. Parents and community members are also included.

However, one school nurse, who has worked at an AISD elementary school for nearly five years, shared her feelings of disappointment that the nursing staff was not included in the discussion.

“We are physically there, we see the kids, we have more of a direct contact and understanding of what is going to happen and how parents respond to things,” the nurse, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “I’m just concerned. My main concern is that there will be an unrealistic view of what is possible and what things look like.”

Lexxy Copeland, the Interim Director of Health Services at AISD, is on the task-force. She is the sole name listed on the document from the health services section, despite most departments having two or more names providing their input. Copeland’s expertise and background are in public health and education, according to AISD.

A spokesperson for Ascension Seton, which employs the nurses who work at the schools, says Copeland meets weekly with the Director of Ascension Seton Student Health Services to gain nurse input which is then forwarded to the task force.

Ascension Seton currently employs 147 staff who support AISD, including nurses and clinical assistants. Our staff continues to support and provide school healthcare services to all AISD students and families through virtual channels during the pandemic

Ascension Seton Spokesperson

AISD said the task force is made up of a variety of individuals from a number of backgrounds and receives health information from the CDC, Travis County Health & Human Services, Austin Public Health and the Texas Education Agency.

The district also added that school nurses are invited to participate in the community conversation circles that began on Monday as a means to provide their thoughts and concerns.

 Input is collected from all areas of Health Services, including AISD staff in Health Services and contractors. The Interim Director of Health Services serves as the health representative that attends the task force meetings and reports out the input gathered from all areas of Health Services, which includes school nurses.

AISD Spokesperson

The nurse believes that having multiple medical opinions, particularly in discussions related to the health and safety of students and staff, is paramount at a time when there is still uncertainty related to COVID-19.

“We are in the same school. We are there everyday,” she said. “I want to be sure that the children are kept safe and the staff are kept safe and healthy. I want to just add the information that my team has to the picture.”

AISD is moving forward with a plan to begin classes August 18, 2020. However, the structure of the learning environment is still being discussed.

There is a virtual conversation for AISD parents and families on Tuesday at noon. That’s where you can share your thoughts for safely getting students back to school.

Do you have a story idea or tip? Follow KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello on social media or send him an email to alexc@kxan.com.

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