“I’m exhausted,” she said. “I was hoping this year would be a little better than last year, but it’s actually worse. “
When a student tests positive, Ms. Storjohann begins a laborious process of contact tracing, which may involve trying to determine who the student is sitting next to at lunch or on the bus. Students have assigned seats on the school bus, she said, but don’t always stay on it, so she reviews video footage from inside the bus.
“And I’m supposed to be able to pick this student and who’s around him,” she said. “And they wear a mask, and they wear a hood and a hat, and that’s impossible. “
And while Covid’s work can seem overwhelming, students still have bloody noses, scratched knees, and head lice. “Or there is a crisis in room 104,” Ms. Giovi said. “Or the nut allergic kid accidentally ate his friend’s snack, and you read the ingredient list real quickly.” None of this stops.
Some nurses said they fell behind with routine back-to-school tasks, such as eye exams, and no longer had time to provide so much personal attention.
Rosemarie, an East Coast school nurse who requested that her full name not be disclosed, recently noticed a student who was not wearing his hearing aid; he said he had lost it in the building a few days earlier.
“Before Covid, I would have walked with him and tried to find this hearing aid,” she said. But she had a student in the Covid isolation room and couldn’t leave her post.