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Just days after the recent celebration of School Nurse Day 2024 honoring their vital work, hundreds of school nurses in New York City public schools are facing potential layoffs due to the looming expiration of federal COVID-19 relief funds. New York City school nurses are not alone in this trend to reduce the school nursing workforce across the country. 

For years, these one-time federal dollars have allowed the city to employ around 400 contracted school nurses, providing essential healthcare services at campuses previously lacking a full-time nurse. But with billions in pandemic aid set to dry up at the end of this school year, the future of these nurses and other federally-funded education programs remains frighteningly uncertain.

The jarring contrast between the recent appreciation for school nurses and their potential termination underscores the precarious nature of their positions. Before COVID-19, at least 137 NYC schools serving 70,000 students went without a full-time nurse, leaving children with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes at higher risk during the school day.

School nurses play an indispensable role in promoting student health, safety, and academic success. Their potential loss would shift vital medical responsibilities onto teachers untrained to manage complex needs. For many families, school nurses provide invaluable peace of mind knowing their children have access to professional healthcare during school hours.

As budget negotiations continue, advocates urgently lobby for funding to preserve school nursing positions after the federal pandemic relief dries up. Without action, the hard-won gains in student healthcare access achieved during COVID-19 could be erased, jeopardizing the well-being of students across the country. New York City is only one example of an alarming pattern that is unfolding as the 2023-2024 school year comes to a close.

Reference:

NYC schools could lose 400 nurses as federal relief funds expire

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