Updated: March 04, 2020 07:44 PM
Created: March 04, 2020 05:22 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - New Mexico schools are getting ready for a coronavirus outbreak.
The Public Education Department sent a letter to superintendents that states: “No cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in NM to date, but this will likely change." The letter also talks about how to plan for closure and preventing the spread of the disease.
According to Dr. Veronica Garcia, the superintendent at Santa Fe Public Schools, a big problem is that a lot of schools don’t have nurses.
She said they are fortunate. All of Santa Fe’s public schools have either a licensed nurse or a health assistant, but other districts and other schools, especially those in rural New Mexico, aren't as lucky.
"All students should have access to a licensed, registered nurse,” Dr. Garcia said. “I think that's key. We appreciate our health assistants but they still require guidance from a nurse. Situations like this highlight the need."
Last year, lawmakers tried passing a bill that would have required every school to have a registered nurse, but House Bill 476 never made it to the floor.
According to a report from the Legislative Finance Committee, 305 schools in our state did not have a registered nurse.
“It's critical because for many children, the school nurse is really their first point of contact for health care," Dr. Garcia said.
Albuquerque and Rio Rancho Public Schools said all of their schools have registered nurses, and Santa Fe schools said they have a mix of registered nurses and assistants.
Santa Fe Public Schools is also sending these letters home to students, their families and to staff, to let them know how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
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