• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Some parents uncooperative

Solon district nurses busy with contact tracing Board expresses 100 percent support for protocols

SOLON– If kids are going to stay in school, strict contact tracing must take place, Superintendent Davis Eidahl said.
“That’s just the way it’s got to be,” he noted.
But not everyone has been happy to receive a phone call from school nurses Kris Elijah and Amy Link.
“When working through a case, parents can take their frustrations out on us,” Elijah said via email.
The two Solon Community School District (SCSD) nurses were on hand for a Nov. 19 meeting of the board of education to share their experiences responding to increased COVID-19 positive cases and quarantines.
“It’s been super-challenging, I’m not going to lie,” Elijah told school board members. “We’ve put in some exhausting hours.”
And some families have not been cooperative.
“At times, we have had parents refuse to help with the investigation, question why their child should quarantine and continue to demand information that we are not able to give them,” she explained after the board meeting. “We have had parents hang up on us and refuse to follow the recommendations of JCPH (Johnson County Public Health) that we have provided.”
While the majority of families have been overwhelmingly supportive, she observed, “it’s the negative interactions that continue to weigh heavy on our hearts.”
Elijah and Link were invited to the meeting as an acknowledgement of all the work they’ve done, Eidahl stated, a public thank you from the board and the district and board members expressed their vocal support.
The nurses were pivotal in developing the district return to learn plan, he said, and spent the summer meeting with JCPH to learn procedures for contact tracing.
In the last three weeks, as the numbers have increased, he reported, the two spent an inordinate amount of time on evenings and weekends to conduct tracing and track down possible exposures.
“You’re working every single day,” board member Adam Haluska commented. “I feel horrible. How much more can we help or what can we do?”
Elijah said the nurses were just messengers doing what they can to keep the school safe. She suggested spreading the word and encouraging the community to get behind the effort.
“We didn’t come up with these protocols, but we sure have to enforce them for the safety of our school, our students, our community and our staff,” she added.
That includes investigating each case with the related family and tracing possible exposure back two days from the onset of symptoms.
The conversations can be lengthy because families have questions and some education has to take place, Elijah continued.
Some parents want to know why an infected student was in school or don’t understand how transmission could have occurred, she added.
Link said some families seem to get frustrated because details of the cases are protected under health privacy laws.
Because they cannot divulge the information about the exposure, she said, the nurses have to encourage students to remember times in the past when they didn’t wear a mask.
Some of the frustration has boiled over into criticism of families blamed for impacting athletic seasons, Elijah said.
“What’s important?” she asked. “Education or sports? We need to remember, we’re all human, and some of these people are sick and they’re scared and they have loved ones that they’re worried about.”
When communicating with families, she said, the two always start by asking how family members are doing.
She urged the community to come together for each of its members.
Board member Dan Coons sympathized with their COVID-19 fatigue.
“You’re just tired, you’re frustrated, things change all the time, you can never set your feet day to day,” he said. “I understand.”
But the district could be sued if it violated privacy laws by sharing information, he added.
“This stuff makes me upset with our community, because I know how hard you guys are working,” he continued. “You are part of why we do what we do. You are here to make our community healthy.”
Coons was upset to hear some people mistreated the nurses and encouraged Elijah and Link to email board members when communication with families became difficult.
“You shouldn’t feel bad about trying to help people,” he noted. “I think it’s important from the top down that we send the message that it’s not okay to treat people in our district poorly. Our employees. That’s not okay with me.”
During a public comment section earlier in the meeting, several Solon students urged the district to keep schools open.
“The only way they can be here safely is with you two doing your job,” Coons said.
The board members are 100 percent behind you, he added.
Board member Rick Jedlicka indicated the conversation was the first step toward assisting the nurses. He urged them to contact board members if more difficulty occurs.
Elijah said building principals have been very supportive and the nurses continue to field lots of questions from staff as the resident health professionals.
The nurses maintain daily contact with JCPH by email or phone and meetings are held every other week with other local districts to compare notes and strategies, she noted.
Board members suggested the possible delegation of duties and the creation of a common presentation to cover basic information for those impacted by exposure or quarantine.
Link said individual phone calls could be 10 minutes to over an hour long.
She embraced her role in helping to educate affected residents and directing them to assistance.
“I think we’re making work for us to have other people do it,” she commented.
Elijah said both she and Link are on the phone all day from the moment they’re in the door.
Earlier in the meeting, the board discussed emergency measures to implement during the pandemic, including the hiring of a substitute nurse to assist until winter break.
That would be appreciated, Elijah noted, to provide the traditional services of a school nurse in the building while the other two are busy with contact tracing. She suggested creating a pool of community members who could serve in the capacity.
Each investigated case is a learning experience, she said, providing an opportunity to improve the district’s mitigation strategies.
But she admitted disappointment in some of the comments she’s heard.
“I am concerned that our athletes are saying ‘don’t tell anybody,’”
Elijah added.
As health care professionals, she said, the nurses serve the students and staff with safety as the number one priority.
Board President Tim Brown thanked the two for their hard work, “more than anyone could expect,” and expressed the board’s appreciation of the effort.
The discussion ended with a round of applause for Elijah and Link.