To the editor:
On May 9, we recognize our school nurses by celebrating National School Nurse Day as a way to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting. The theme this year is, School Nurses: Advocates for 21st Century Student Health. Parents should be able to send their children to school with the peace of mind that they will remain healthy, safe and ready to learn. Given that today’s children face more chronic health illnesses (asthma, diabetes, food allergies, mental health, etc.) than ever before, I take my role as a licensed, professional school nurse very seriously. I am grateful for the teachers, administrators, counseling and student support services team with whom I work each day, which helps to create a healthy learning environment for every student at Downers Grove South High School. My knowledge, assessment skills and judgment help ensure I can provide quality health care. As a school nurse at DGS, I take on a variety of roles every day. For some students, I am the only health professional they may have access to, except in emergencies. This becomes even more important as the prevalence of chronic social, emotional and other health problems keep increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma is the leading chronic illness among children and adolescents in the United States. On average, in a classroom of 30, about three students are likely to have asthma. Furthermore, childhood obesity has more than quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Today, about one in every 400 adolescents has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It seems like common sense that healthier students are better learners. But evidence-based research in fields ranging from neuroscience and child development to epidemiology and public health support this fact. We support investing in programs and services that seek to improve the health and well-being outcomes of all students and ensure they have a successful, productive and healthy future.
Gloria E. Barrera
Certified school nurse
Downers Grove South High School