Nurses’ Office Spotlight


Interviewees ↓
Ms. Connor
Ms. Worstell



As a registered nurse at Bernard’s High School, how have you contributed to distance learning?


Ms. Connor:

“A. Arrange for medications at school to be returned in a safe manner so all students have access to their medication while there is a stay at home order in place.
B. Work closely with the administration to monitor those students who become sick during this pandemic to make sure they have access to appropriate care.
C. Check-in with families and students that have communicated that they are ill, sick, or
having surgery. Provide resources as needed. If the student is unable to log on to participate in the remote learning plan, arrange for alternative methods of instruction to be
D. For those students with medically complex health issues, a weekly check-in with the student and family.
E. Develop and share safe practices for staff at school to follow that are distributing any
necessary items: free and reduced lunches, graduation caps and gowns, etc.
F. Maintain a list of resources that students and families can access for any needs identified (mental health clinics, food banks, helplines, charities, community resources).
G. Collaboration with SHSD administration, Guidance counselors, Local board of health
directors, and school physicians to participate in any planning that is being discussed for
the possibility of reopening schools when notified that it is safe to do so.
H. Participate in virtual 504/IEP meetings
I. Participate in virtual new hire interviews.
J. Work closely with faculty and students in STARS class with a continuation of Grow Well
Project (growing vegetable garden). Since school was closed, I brought the garden boxes
home and am tending to them with hopes of replanting them once the weather gets
K. Collaborate with Somerset County School Nurse Association to help find volunteers to work at testing sites and help coordinate the donation of Personal Protective Equipment to
local hospitals when supplies were running low. SCSNA members put together and delivered gift bags and words of encouragement to healthcare workers at a local hospital.
L. Participate in webinars with the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of School Nursing, and New Jersey State School Nursing Associations to keep up to date and current on the pandemic planning.
M. Collect and analyze data from last school year and plan appropriately for the upcoming
school year.
N. Look ahead to prepare what would be needed to open for the new school year. Collaborate with staff at other schools (BMS/Bedminster/Local Private Schools, etc.)
regarding any health information for incoming 9th graders.
O. Update and review policies, procedures and plans of care for all students
P. Coordinate the approval process for fall sports.”


Ms. Worstell: “The nurses in the district are not actively involved in distance learning with the students. We do, however, meet with each other via zoom every week to discuss issues that have arisen. For example, what is the role of the nurse when school reopens, how do we plan to manage our office with ill students, and how do we protect the staff and students. We also have been taking online classes for school nurses and answering questions from staff and parents. And, of course, there is always lots of paperwork for the end of this year and start of the next school year.”


What are your goals to improve students’ lives? In other words, what is your vision for the future of this school?

Ms. Connor: “As a school nurse, I have the opportunity to help build a healthy school community that promotes learning so students can come to school, stay in school and be safe. A school nurse wears multiple hats in order to assure students are physically, socially, and mentally healthy. They are advocates, supporters, helpers, listeners, and collaborators. Not only is it essential that school nurses connect with students, but it is also equally important to continually collaborate with faculty, parents, community members, and public health teams. Working together in this fashion can assure that we have the students as the center focus so they can stay healthy so they can be educated. The future of school nursing is definitely geared toward this whole model collaborative approach. School Nurses need to follow a practice that is evidenced based. They are care coordinators that work with all types of teams within the school and within the community. The data they collect is so important. It should be appropriately analyzed so everyone (nurses, faculty, administrators, community members, and public health teams) can get a better understanding of which activities promote student-centered health and what activities need to be enriched in hopes of a vision for the future that improves the lives of all students.”


Ms. Worstell: “I believe we will be doing a lot of education (handwashing, social distancing). No one knows what the new school year will bring. There may be major changes in the number of students in the school at one time, whether we will be wearing masks, or possibly doing some classes virtually.”


Do you feel that it is more beneficial to communicate with all students virtually or in-person? Why?

Ms. Connor: “I especially enjoy communicating with students in person. When one communicates in person, you can gather the information that you might not be able to assess virtually. I feel it is more beneficial because you are actually able to see the student physically, get a clear idea of how they look and have a face to face conversation. You can get a clear emotional picture, you can clearly hear the tone of the voice, and you can interpret body language.”


Ms. Worstell: “I enjoy communicating with the staff and students in-person. The physical presence of the person is important in my understanding of how they are feeling both physically and emotionally.”


In your opinion, what are the positives and negatives of distance learning?

Ms. Connor: “Positives: Everyone should be able to arrive to class on time, as hopefully there are no commuting glitches, students and staff are able to work from wherever they have an internet connection. If you are the type of student that prefers to work alone and not be socially distracted, distance learning can provide that opportunity. Once the world was hit with this pandemic, distance learning allows education to continue.

Negatives: There is a lack of face to face interaction, students and staff have to create their own opportunity for social interaction, which can be very limited due to the current pandemic crisis. It could be harder for students to maintain friendships. Students and staff might have to stay more self-motivated which could be difficult for some, but maybe not for others. Some students might find distance learning extremely challenging and cannot feel successful at it, and may feel they are not being educated as they would be with classroom instruction. Students and staff miss out on all the wonderfully positive and social connections that go along with being in school, for example, co-curricular activities, graduation ceremonies, field trips, proms, etc.”


Ms. Worstell: “The positive is that we can all be safe and not spread the virus. The negative is the lack of social interaction with the students and staff.”


Do you prefer to work from home or in a school setting? Please explain.

Ms. Connor: “I prefer to work in the school setting. I like leaving my home and going to a different place to work as it keeps both places separated. I really enjoy being with the students and staff at BHS. It is a wonderfully social atmosphere. It is a fun, busy, friendly, and rewarding environment. Staff supports each other in a very professional setting and the students always make my day very interesting.”


Ms. Worstell: “I prefer to work in the school setting. I am a social person and miss the enthusiasm of the students and the friendships of the staff. Also, there is more structure to the day.”


Throughout this process, what important tips have you learned?

Ms. Connor:

“Some of the tips I have learned during this pandemic:
A. I really appreciate that I am healthy and can acknowledge the little things in life that are important. The time I have spent at home and with my family gives me a chance to slow down the pace of my life, and pay closer attention to what is going on.
B. It is okay to take time to care for yourself.
C. I have found that completing unfinished projects around my house made me feel so much better and I actually enjoy doing them so much more because I can take my time.
D. I also realized that I really like being around people and I miss seeing so many of them every day. Group chats and zoom meetings help me stay connected to many of my family and friends.
E. I realize that I function much better when I am disciplined and scheduled. Working from home can have its benefits, but in the beginning, I found that there were so many ways to get distracted. So, I set up an organized workspace and an organized exercise space and tried hard to stick to somewhat of a schedule, and I feel so much better doing so.”



Ms. Worstell: “My tips would include the importance of exercise in our emotional/mental health, reaching out to family and friends either virtually or via phone, eating a healthy diet.”


During quarantine, what have you done to keep yourself occupied in your spare time?

Ms. Connor: “A. I read more every day. I have finished one book already Gentlemen in Moscow and I have started to read Educated.
B. When the quarantine started, I completed various house chores that have been on my “to-do list” for some time now. I organized my basement, cleaned out a few overcrowded closets, and spent quite a bit of time in the garage, sorting through its contents and discarding/donating what was no longer used or needed.
C. Since I play the piano, I have increased my time practicing that musical instrument that I love.
D. Since I am taking classes to learn to speak Spanish, I arranged with my classmates to meet virtually for about 45 minutes once a week. We try to speak only Spanish together for the entire virtual meeting so we can improve and practice our speaking skills
E. I volunteer with the Somerset County School Nurse Association. We had already arranged a sock drive and was just about finished with the collection, so we donated what was collected to the Samaritan Homeless Interim Program, in Somerville. We also made individualized gift bags and gave them to health care workers at Morristown Medical Center, where my daughter works as a nurse.”


Ms. Worstell: “I am taking a Spanish class online and speaking Spanish with other friends. Babysitting my grandson, doing needlework, zoom meetings with friends around the country, and gardening.”


Once the quarantine is over, what is an activity that you are most looking forward to participating in?

Ms. Connor: “I look forward to any and all activities that allow being together with my family and friends. Every summer, I spend it at the beach with my husband and children. We all look forward to doing things in the summer that are relaxing and fun: swimming in the ocean, hanging out with family and friends with backyard BBQs, boating on the bay, early morning biking/walking along the boardwalk, watching sunsets and then walking to the homemade ice cream shop in the evening. I look forward to doing that this summer and hope that I can.”


Ms. Worstell: “Visiting with friends and family face to face and not wearing a mask everywhere!”


What are you doing to maintain/improve physical health during this quarantine?

Ms. Connor:

“A. If the weather permits, I try to walk about two-three miles daily.
B. I work out at home between four-five mornings per week. I follow a similar workout procedure that was taught to me at the classes I attended at the YMCA before it closed. I set up a workout space in my house that includes a workout mat, some fit bands, and various weights. I try to vary the exercises that work on balance, upper body, back, leg, core, and cardio exercises. Each daily workout is approximately 45 minutes and I play the music that I like to hear to keep me motivated to finish the workout.
C. I try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day, especially while I am at my computer working.
D. I make a concerted effort to eat nutritious healthy meals. During the quarantine, the extra time at home has given me the opportunity to look up some different healthy recipes and I have enjoyed trying to prepare them at home with my family.”


Ms. Worstell: “Exercise is very important to maintain good mental health. I walk every day and have started taking the virtual yoga classes offered through the Y. I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and look into exercise classes available online.”