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Mid-South school nurses deal with heavy workload as Omicron cases rise

“I'm not going to lie, the workload is insane,” said Meghan Seay, coordinated school health supervisor with Collierville Schools.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Omicron variant has hit hard on many fronts, especially when it comes to our school systems.

As more students come down with COVID, school nurses are juggling a heavy workload.

Think of your everyday bumps, bruises, and usual medical needs in the school. Now, add COVID on top of that.

“I'm not going to lie, the workload is insane,” said Meghan Seay, coordinated school health supervisor with Collierville Schools.

It's a state of insanity that began at the start of the school year with the Delta variant.

Seay said they thought they were in the clear as the number of cases decreased.

“This Omicron kind of caught us by surprise. We really thought numbers were trending down. We'd have more of a normal year, and here we are after the holidays a spike again,” said Seay.

The spike in cases has overwhelmed school nurses.

“The one thing that we do struggle with is the back and forth with changing with the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health and the guideline changes and all that kind of stuff,” said Seay.

The goal is to keep students in school, but also keep them safe.

“That means making sure the sick kids get the attention that they need so that the healthy ones can stay and learn,” said Seay.

At Collierville schools, they have adjusted to the need.

“We're very lucky in Collierville Schools that we actually have 12 clinic nurses on staff for our nine school buildings. So, in some of our larger schools, we have more than one nurse,” said Seay.

They hired staff to help with contact tracing and notifications. They've also hired two COVID nurses.

“Our COVID nurses are supporting our clinic nurses. They're providing free COVID testing at our high school, but any of our staff and students can drive through and get tested for free,” said Seay. “While the workload is still there, there's a few more hands to help them with that.”

Seay said parents can also help by making sure their children follow CDC guidelines and closely monitor any signs of sickness.

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