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Why are Rock Hill School Nurses the Best? Find Out!

School nurses are champions for students every day of the year. On National School Nurse Day, we take special time to celebrate and honor the contributions that Rock Hill school nurses are making to the health and well-being of our district’s children. The nurses in Rock Hill Schools serve an integral role ensuring the physical, emotional, and mental safety of all students, regardless of whether they are physically present in the school or not.

Rock Hill Schools is proud to have 32 district nurses working hard to care for each and every student. While ensuring the safety and health of teachers and staff, Rock Hill school nurses do it with compassion, kindness, and grace.  

Ms. Kember Reed, RN B.S, has been a school nurse at Lesslie Elementary School for the past three years and, in her words, becoming a nurse was a no-brainer. “I love kids and being able to make even the slightest impact on a child motivated me to pursue becoming a school nurse,” Nurse Reed said about her career to become a school nurse. Nurse Reed’s impact has given students new outlooks in life, literally. As she recalls a particular memory that stands out to her, it’s apparent how life-changing nurses can be when they are champions for the students. “I remember a first-grade student who failed a vision exam,” Nurse Reed starts to tell the story. “Her grandmother then took her to the eye doctor and I remember her grandmother calling me after the appointment to say ‘Nurse Reed, thank you for notifying me about her failed exam… when we walked out of the eye doctor’s office my granddaughter looked at me and told me she sees the leaves on the trees!” The grandmother, fighting back tears on that call with Nurse Reed said, “You helped her to be able to see the leaves when before it was just a big green blob to her.” Vision is so important and this young first-grader used to have a hard time seeing the board at school and reading her textbooks until she got her glasses. “This is one of the reasons I love my job,” Nurse Reed said.

As safety remains the top priority, school nurses have continually been at the forefront of navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic safety precautions at schools this past year. In addition to daily tasks, the school nurses have navigated the execution of COVID-19 testing, tracking, and most recently, vaccinating.

Ms. Ellen McKinnon, RN, School Nurse at Richmond Drive Elementary School & Richmond’s Support Professional of the Year has worked closely to monitor students for symptoms that the DHEC requires to be checked for COVID-19. “We have had new things to think about this year, including ways to properly social distance,” Nurse McKinnon said, “Another important step school nurses have taken is to provide contact tracing to help keep our students and staff as safe as possible. This has meant long hours at times, but each of us love our students and want to give the best care possible.”

Rock Hill school nurses provided education and guidance through the information they received through the DHEC and CDC to the community and schools. Several nurses helped to administer COVID vaccines at the community clinic and also helped administer vaccines to district personnel. “Being a school nurse in a pandemic has had its set of challenges for sure,” Nurse McKinnon said, “This year has had lots of new issues that we have had to focus on for the health and well-being of our students. I know for sure though that there is nowhere else I’d rather have been than be a school nurse where I can care for and love my students and staff.”

This past school year has had a lot of uncertainty and unpredictability, but school nurses have been at the front line serving as a calming and courageous presence. Nurse Reed describes her perspective of being a nurse during the worldwide pandemic as “scary, at times.” When she would have to tell a teacher about a positive case in their classroom it was “so gut wrenching because of the fear of the virus.” Nurse Reed continues, “But it also showed me how strong our teachers and students are.  I saw so many folks step up to the task and regardless of masks, plexiglass, and social distancing we are here in school and we are in this together so that made me joyful and hopeful. We invented ways to interact with our kiddos at a safe distance like air hugs, foot high fives, elbow taps.”

Nurse McKinnon also stayed positive by remembering that everyone is in this together. “I take each day and sometimes each minute at a time,” she said, “I try to encourage my staff members daily and answer their questions knowing we will get through this together and be stronger because of this!”