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Legislation would provide grants for schools to hire more nurses

WASHINGTON — The American Academy of Pediatrics applauded legislation filed by Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada that would enable the hiring of more nurses for public elementary and secondary schools, including those in Clark County, officials said Tuesday.

Similar legislation creating a grant program administered by the Department of Education was filed in the Senate by Democrat Jon Tester of Montana, another Western state where school districts are facing a shortage of nurses as campuses reopen from a year of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even before the pandemic closed campuses last year, the AAP recommended that districts hire a full-time nurse for every school.

The Clark County School District has 196 permanent and 11 part-time nurses serving 350 schools.

Superintendent Jesus Jara said that on average in the district, there is just one school nurse assigned to more than 1,800 students.

“The funding is needed to ensure we bring that ratio down,” he said.

Titus, a Democrat, said that as students return to the classroom, “School nurses will play a key role in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

The new grant program would provide up to 75 percent of the cost of having a licensed nurse on site. It also would provide waivers for the neediest schools that could not meet their expected contribution, said Dr. Lee Savio Beers, AAP president.

He applauded Titus for her commitment to ensuring every school has a nurse.

Titus said the legislation would allow eligible entities such as CCSD to apply for the grants if at least 20 percent of students within their jurisdiction are eligible for low-cost or free school lunches.

“School nurses are an important and valuable component to student success,” Jara said.

He said nurses administer medication and make it possible for some medically fragile children to attend school.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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