Health Division and Oakland Schools Partner to Create Nurse Program for Safe Return to Classroom in the Fall

$2 Million Initiative is First of its Kind in State

Istock photo

The Oakland County Health Division and Oakland Schools are collaborating on a $2 million COVID-19 school nurse initiative which aims to give students, parents, school faculty and staff confidence that they will be safe when school resumes in the fall.

The Oakland Together School Nurse Initiative will assist schools with public health strategies and direction to prevent the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. School nurses will provide communication, training, consultation and recommendations to school districts when students return for classes in the fall. The Health Division plans to hire 68 nurses to work with schools through December, Oakland County Executive David Coulter said today.

“We know the concern the virus has caused among students, parents, school faculty and staff,” Coulter said. “We are working closely with our partners at Oakland Schools to provide prevention strategies that will allow our schools to resume the important work of educating our young people. We want everyone to have confidence we are doing everything we can to provide a safe and healthy learning environment.”

Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Oakland Schools, said the partnership comes at an important time for education and families.

“After the child’s home, school represents the second most influential environment in a child’s life,“ Cook-Robinson said. “We are excited to be partnering with the Oakland County Health Division to bring the Oakland Together School Nurse Initiative to our students, parents, teachers and staff. Nurses working in the schools will have a crucial role in supporting health services to children and youth during this pandemic as they will be instrumental in implementing practices that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The county Board of Commissioners is expected to consider the request when it meets in two weeks. Funding would come from the federal CARES Act. The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the state.

The program has three components, which include communication, training, consultation and recommendations. Nurses would meet with individual districts to update them on COVID-19 activity in the community, provide prevention strategies for high-risk children and connect parents to additional resourced as needed.

Students would be instructed on social distancing strategies, hand washing, health screening and planning for what may come next in the pandemic. Other focus areas include:

  • Assist school districts in creating and implementing health screening protocols
  • Assist schools to identify and create sick/isolation rooms
  • Create educational messages on the importance of prevention and staying home when sick
  • Provide access to COVID-19 resources for students, parents, teachers and staff

The school nurse initiative is the latest in a series of moves Coulter, with support from the board, has undertaken to support business, non-profits and local communities during the pandemic.

Coulter moved aggressively to help struggling small businesses through the allocation of nearly $14 million to 3,500 small businesses seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants averaged nearly $4,000 from the small business stabilization fund. The “Saving Businesses, Saving Lives” grant is included in the nearly $14 million fund.

The county recently began distributing 10,000 “Oakland Together” COVID-19 safety kits which include facemasks, no-touch thermometers, gloves and sanitizer to give small businesses essential materials for reopening and customers confidence they will have a safe experience. The toolkits were available to small businesses, faith-based and nonprofit organizations. The popularity of the kits has prompted the county to prepare another 5,000 kits for distribution.

Oakland County set aside $30 million from their allocation of CARES Act funds for cities, townships, and villages impacted by COVID-19.