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Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools offering stipends for school nurses

Mary Moster helps a student at Crozet Elementary.
Mary Moster helps a student at Crozet Elementary.(WVIR)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - From cuts, bumps and bruises, to COVID-19, school nurses like Mary Moster see and do it all.

“You really are the infection control officer and the last call for what’s going to happen with health related issues in the school,” she stated.

Moster started her role at Crozet Elementary a little over a year ago, when the responsibilities of school nurses doubled because of COVID-19.

“We try to have all the mitigation strategies in place and really watch carefully for kids who have any symptoms of illness and make sure we don’t have them in school to protect the other kids who are trying to stay well and learn,” Moster said.

The job is stressful, and Moster says, sometimes met with negativity.

“When you call someone on the phone and I say ‘Hi this is Mary, I’m the nurse at Crozet Elementary’ and there’s sort of silence at the end on the phone. No one wants to hear your voice because you’re the doomsayer,” she said. “Because it’s now, ‘Oh no, now my child is either ill or in quarantine or it’s going to be something negative.’”

Sarah Kinney, a nurse at Venable Elementary who started just a few months ago, agrees.

“It’s supposed to be a little more lower stress, and right now, it’s not,’ Kinney said. “I feel like I’m more on the front lines now [than] when I was working in the hospital in some ways, although I was not working in a COVID-19 unit and I give a lot of respect to those nurses.”

Nurses are in demands not only in hospitals and doctor’s offices, but in schools too. Charlottesville City Schools and Albemarle County Schools are now giving stipends to nurses, not only for compensation, but to prevent shortages down the road.

Charlottesville City Schools will give $5,000 to nurses working this academic year. In Albemarle, $2,500 will go to every current and hired nurse.

Both Kinney and Moster say, despite the challenges, it’s the students, their families and their appreciation, that make it all worth it.

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