School nurse says new state COVID-19 toolkit helps when reporting cases

Nurses react to new ADPH guidelines for schools

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - New guidelines from the Alabama Department of Public Health are being released on October 13.

On October 19, Bessemer City Schools will begin four day in-person learning for younger grade levels. The rest will be integrated back into four day in-person the next two weeks. Virtual learning is still an option for students who are not ready to return.

The district’s lead nurse, Lashanda Benjamin, said it has been a busy year, but it’s going well.

“I have not seen the loss of senses, taste and smell at all, but I have seen a lot of coughing and sniffles," Benjamin said. “But it’s going well. Our parents and staff are doing great.”

But, now there are new rules from the state when it comes to reporting COVID-19 and Benjamin said she thinks it will help keep kids in school.

“They can have a cough," Benjamin said. “They can have a runny nose, but that may not be a good COVID indicator.”

Students with those symptoms will still go home, but now nurses will only report cases to the state of people who test positive or who have lost their sense of taste or smell.

Benjamin said the new rules will help with misreporting of COVID numbers.

“It will actually make it more uniform as far as reporting goes," Benjamin said.

She also said the new rules will help reduce the amount of kids sent home over false alarms, but says if there is any question about a student’s health, parents should keep them at home.

“Everybody is trying to make sure that everybody is safe and healthy and that these children can return to school," Benjamin said. “The best thing to do is remind your student to maintain six feet, wash hands, and keep their mask on.”

Benjamin said students who have come into close contact with someone who has experienced a new loss of taste or smell or has tested positive for COVID-19, still must go home to quarantine for 14 days.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.