NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With just three weeks until the start of the school year, New York City is scrambling to find hundreds of school nurses. The mayor vowed to have one nurse in every school on day one.
Desperation is mounting as agencies try to hire school nurses. One ad tries to woo new grads. Another promises a $250 referral bonus. Former school nurse Julie Khanna says her phone is blowing up.
“The desperation and paying top dollar. No commitment, temporary, one day a week, two days a week,” said Khanna, in an interview with CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
According to the union, the United Federation Of Teachers, there are at least 400 open school nurse positions to meet the goal of having one in every school. Mother Tara Genen hopes none of those vacancies are at her daughter’s school.
“God forbid my daughter or any of the other kids are feeling ill, they need to see a nurse before they get sent home,” said Genen.
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There was already a school nurse shortage before COVID-19 hit and previously not every school had a nurse.
“I will not have anyone’s blood, any child or staff person’s blood, on my hands as a result of this,” said a nurse who asked not to have identity revealed.
This nurse said key details about how to keep everyone safe still have to be outlined, not to mention new hires need at least six weeks of training and there are just three weeks until school starts.
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“We’re not prepared,” said the nurse who asked not to have identity revealed.
CBS2 reached out to city agencies but did not get answers about how new nurses could still start on time.
We also brought the concerns to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“People are just really questioning the logistics of this whole process,” said Cline-Thomas.
“We are doing things in a fast, effective way to be ready, but those nurses will be ready,” said Mayor de Blasio.
The mayor didn’t say how, only stressing that his directive would be met. With so many unanswered questions, the union is advocating to begin the school year completely online.
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