Unhealthy Schools: The Alarming Decline of School Nurses in Oregon demonstrates yet another area in which Oregon is falling short.
The report, which was released this week by the Oregon School Employee Association, the Oregon School Nurse Association and the Oregon Nurses Association, shows the startling cuts to school nursing programs in Oregon: Since 2010, the ratio of students to nurses has doubled. As a result, Oregon is lagging behind the rest of the nation in providing nursing infrastructure in school.
- Oregon has just 1 registered nurse or certified school nurse for every 2,178 students. That’s a far cry from the recommended ratio of 1 nurse for every 750 students.
- 31 school districts in Oregon are violating state law by not employing enough nurses to care for medically fragile or nursing-dependant students.
We know that school nurses play a critical role in creating a healthy environment in which students can succeed. Studies show that without school nurses, absenteeism rates go up. When students aren’t in class, they aren’t learning. Oregon has one of the worst rates of chronic absenteeism in the nation, and investing in school nurses will help fix this problem.
“Ultimately, we could be keeping kids so much safer and healthier if there were more school nurses. There would be better attendance, graduation rates and higher grades. If there were more of us we could have so many more proactive conversations about parenting, chronic diseases and preventable conditions and actually be a part of their education, instead of just desperately trying to keep them in school. “
— Cindy Hoeffer, School Nurse, Salem-Keizer
Addressing the shortfalls highlighted in this report will cost the state between $58 and $78 million per year. It’s time to make these important investments and provide the complete care and education our children deserve.