Benton School District head nurse talks COVID coordination

Reopening Schools in Arkansas

BENTON, Ark. – Districts across the state are preparing for COVID-19 when school starts in the fall. School nurses are one of the first lines of defense. 

Cheryl Watson is the lead nurse at the Benton Public School. She has been working directly with the State on how the district is drawing up plans for fighting and preventing coronavirus. 

“We went to make sure there’s lots and lots of communication between everybody,” Watson said. 

She is coordinating the COVID-19 response. She says seating charts will be helpful in contact tracing in schools and beyond. 

“That lets each school nurse know who was within 6 feet of that student, longer than 15 minutes, whether or not they have a mask on,” she said. 

She says if students or teachers fall ill, she will contact the proper avenues and also send people home to quarantine if needed.

“Arkansas Department of Health will tell us what to do and we will follow whatever those guidelines are at that time.” 

All the while, she says, school nurses still must keep up with mandated health screenings like hearing and vision tests. 

“School nurses have a lot of stuff that we are going to be doing regardless of whether we are virtual, blended, in person, however it looks.” 

Watson says despite what happens they are preparing for the best-case scenario when it comes to the unknown. 

“The district is prepared to be as flexible as possible, pivot at a moment’s notice, and we can deliver the best education to the kids that we possibly can.” 

Watson also asks families to help teach younger students now how to wear a mask, and the importance of doing so, before school starts in August. 

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