PISCATAWAY, NJ - At the December Board of Education meeting, Dr. Ranelli presented an overview of the role our school nurses play within the Piscataway district and individual schools.

Like so much in the field of medicine, school nursing has changed dramatically in a generation. While parents still get that phone call−their child is sick and will remain safe under the nurse’s care until they can pick them up—our school nurses now take a very proactive role in disease prevention, health accommodations, and safety.

In a district as large as ours, caring for over 7200 students from many different backgrounds, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses calls for monitoring more than current student records. Led by Dr. Deborah Dawson, Supervisor of K-8 Counseling and Health Services, our school nurses—all of whom are certified RNs−take a proactive approach to keeping our school community safe and healthy. 

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Throughout any given day, our nurses take care of sick children and staff members, administer medications to students, and conduct student health screenings for hearing, vision, and blood pressure according to State requirements. They communicate with parents, answering questions, offering referrals, and explaining policies. They also work on the 504 Team, ensuring that proper health accommodations are made when they are needed.

Our nurses save lives. In emergency situations, serious issues suffered by students or staff, our nurses provide lifesaving care while awaiting EMTs. They are key members of a school’s safety committee, preparing for emergency situations. They ensure that necessary medication, such as inhalers and epi-pens, are ready to be pushed out of school at a moment’s notice.

The social/emotional well-being of every student is a primary focus throughout the district, and our nurses work closely with the Counseling Department to assist students with any and all needs. The nursing office is a safe space in every school, one where students know they will find compassion and understanding. 

And there’s the paperwork: sports physicals, state compliance, new hire paperwork, and the tasks of taking care of people. They work with families to help with many types of needs. And our nurses bring a sense of comfort to our buildings.

Our nurses are the heart of our schools. We thank them for their dedication to our students and their unwavering commitment to the health of all members of our school community.

Thank you, Dr. Deborah Dawson; Ellen Mancusi; Corinne Fender, Arbor; Deborah Gorsky, Children’s Corner River; Katherine Flannary, Children’s Corner Pond; Nancy Arocho, Eisenhower; Margaret Fryer, Grandview; Eliana Fink, ML King; Judy Collins, Knollwood; Evangeline Marzan, Randolphville; Michelle Delardo, Conackamack; Denise Kelly, Quibbletown; Toni Bellotti, Schor; Mary Ellen Jahn, Donna Zimmerman, Makiko Davis, PHS.