Update from the State School Nurse - September 22, 2021

Update from the Wyoming Department of Education  |  view online |  website

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FALL 2021

Welcome to the State School Nurse Fall Newsletter

The 2021-22 school year has started with much excitement statewide. Wyoming schools stayed open last year in the midst of a pandemic and succeeded. Students, teachers, and parents are excited to once again have face-to-face instruction. We all hope for the same success this school year. Keeping our students safe and healthy is a priority, especially for nurses. This year will have its own challenges as each district can recommend their own guidance to the pandemic prevention in schools. Each school should still follow guidance from local and state public health officials and the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

As nurses we have a moral and ethical obligation to public health and safety. At times, this can be a grey area given our current pandemic and school settings. The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE)encourages you to communicate with your supervisors and staff about any concerns that you may have. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction School Nurse Update has a very helpful article with some guidance when facing a moral dilemma. It provides helpful points in relation to the school nurse competencies and standards of the American Nurses Association and National Association of School Nurses. Continue to advocate for the health of students and staff, for best practice, and yourself. The WDE supports school nurses and their continued efforts to keep schools safe and open during this challenging time.

COVID-19 Updates

Do you have questions? The best way to reach the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is via email at WDH.covid19@wyo.gov or call 877-996-9000. 

  • Share your questions and answers in the WDE-Schoolnurses email group.

Committee Work

The State School Nurse, school nurses, and key stakeholders have started committee work for the Vision Screening Guidance and the statewide Health Data Collection. The Vision Screening Committee will collaborate and utilize best practice to create a draft proposal of a guiding protocol/handbook that may be used statewide to conduct vision screenings in schools. The Health Data Collection Task Force will focus on the statutes, to build a health report and data collection. Committee work still to come: Professional Development/Onboarding & Hearing Screening Guidance. Through the work of these committees we hope to improve collaboration within the state and nationally, to promote evidence-based best practices, and to support school nurses. 


Monthly school nurse meetings are being held, and continue to be developed for the school year. The purpose is to provide a platform to share, collaborate, and learn from each other. There will always be an open session for nurses to ask questions, seek support, or discuss topics of interest.

The WDE has collaborated with the WDH, Immunization Division for September and October’s meetings. Providing information on vaccination regulations, laws, and records, as well as a question and answer sessions for each.

Did you miss the last meeting? We understand that the scheduling can be a conflict. We plan to vary the times these live meetings are offered and record the meetings for viewing when you may have more time.

View the latest State School Nurse webinar here.

The WDE-SCHOOLNURSES email group has been created. This group can be utilized by all school nurses to ask questions, seek support, and stay informed. The committee team members will be utilizing this form of communication to gain data, send out surveys, and seek feedback as we work on drafts and proposals. This will also be utilized to keep nurses informed of current guidance, educational opportunities, and professional development events.

Wyoming School Nurses are Strong and Rejuvenated

In August, the WSNA hosted the “Rejuvenate the School Nurse in You!” conference in Gillette. The conference had a great deal of information for school nurses, addressing some pediatric illness and assessments, taking attention to mental health and wellness, school nursing management, organization, and leadership. Participants also got a glimpse into the school-based health clinic in Gillette and the positive impact it is having for the community. 


Nurse Highlight

Congratulations to Ruth Burns BSN, RN of Natrona County School District #1 for the achievement of “School Nurse of the Year” awarded by the WSNA. 

Ruth started her nursing career in May 1981, working in a 45-bed pediatric unit caring for hospitalized children from infants through young adults. She has watched health care change a lot over the past 40 years. From having T&A patients check in the night before surgery, then have them for at least 24 hours post-op before discharge home, to now those types of surgeries are outpatient. Ruth has had a great deal of pediatric experience traveling, emergency care, critical care float, and PICU. 

In 2002 she moved to Wyoming in public health in Casper, working with the first time pregnant mom program, working with young teen mom's and their babies and. learned a great deal about immunization schedules and vaccine related illnesses from a public health perspective. 

 August 2005 was Ruth’s first year as a school nurse. She looked back on that time and said, “The first year was rough, learning how to be a nurse in an education setting, having 2 busy elementary schools, both wanting me at their school, and feeling pulled. I have learned to work with office staff who cover the office, various principal's, teachers and families over the years.” 

Over the years, she has gained assessment skills and knowledge to efficiently triage and treat pediatric patients with emergent and complex healthcare needs; such as encopresis, ITP, spina Bifida, Downs syndrome, and - of course - many cases of lice. Ruth is a mentor to fellow school nurses in NCSD #1 and through her work with WSNA. Through the pandemic, school nursing has been greatly affected, more so this year than last. Nurses are using so much of their time for testing, contact tracing and quarantining students and staff across the state. Ruth said, “... seeing how this pandemic affects all of us this year, as we have optional masks for students and staff with a more highly contagious strain of COVID. This year we are already seeing many students and staff quarantined including some of our school nurses.”

Ruth’s positive attitude, mentorship, and experience is no doubt an asset to NCSD#1, WSNA, and our state. Ruth wanted to give these words of encouragement to our school nurses: “I want to take this opportunity to wish all school nurses in Wyoming to hang on, this will be another wild ride. We can do this, knowing you are not alone. There are other school nurses in Wyoming via WSNA willing and able to help support you in your journey in school nursing. Also we now have our very own School Nurse consultant in Robin Cole.”  

Professional Development Opportunities

Through your membership of the Wyoming School Nurses Association, participants automatically become a member of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). Both of these organizations promote, advocate, and offer educational opportunities to support the role of the school nurse. The NASN has conferences offered, as well as web-based learning modules providing growth opportunities on a variety of topics. More information on membership can be found here.

Through a membership of the Wyoming Nurses Association (WNA) you are automatically a member of the American Nurses Association. Both organizations provide conferences, newsletters, and webinars for professional development. The 2021 WNA Nursing Summit & Convention will be held virtually on Friday, October 29,  with a focus on “Cultivating Diversity and Inclusion: It Starts with Us.” More information can be found at the WNA website here.

UW ECHO Networks presents a free seven-part series to learn about the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and evidence-based trauma-informed early intervention strategies to support students. Save the Date for these fall learning opportunities bi-weekly on Wednesdays, starting on September 22. Register  here.

The WDE State School Nurse is assembling a committee for the onboarding of school nurses. The WDE hopes to create some uniformity across the state, assist school districts in the transition of new school nurses, and support school nurses statewide. Look for more information to come and provide feedback so that the department can make some positive changes in this process.

Go RED District Heart Challenge

The American Heart Association (AHA) would like to share the District Heart Challenge. This initiative focuses on the health and wellness of employees and staff. The AHA will provide the emails and materials for the school nurse to distribute. Take a look at these videos Go Red District Heart Challenge & District Heart Challenge to show staff. If anyone is interested in this employee wellness program for your district contact Tonya Bradford at tonya.bradford@heart.org.

We currently have Kay Derhsam (Laramie County #2) and Lynn Fox (Laramie County #1) participating and promoting wellness for their colleagues. 


For more information, contact Robin Cole, State School Nurse, at 307-777-3522 or robin.cole@wyo.gov