To ensure school nurses across New Jersey are best equipped to facilitate the health and wellness needs of students, the full Assembly approved legislation 71-3-1 sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Karabinchak, Mila Jasey and Pamela Lampitt last Thursday.
The bill (A-4378) would establish the position of State School Nurse Consultant within the Department of Education (DOE), who would be appointed by the Commissioner of Education. They would need to be a certified school nurse with a master’s degree and demonstrated higher-level leadership experience.
The Consultant would work in collaboration with the Department of Health and with other state agencies and stakeholders.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more pronounced need for schools to be equipped with the best available information and expertise to manage the health and safety of their students,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “Having a nurse consultant will ensure their practice can be effectively standardized across districts and that school nurses have the support they need to be successful.”
The Consultant would be responsible to serve as a liaison and resource expert on school nursing and to facilitate the development of comprehensive school health policies in line with evolving medical and legal practice among other duties.
“We are going to be relying on our school nurses in the upcoming school year more than ever,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “Making sure there is a consultant housed in the DOE who is able to facilitate cross-agency conversations with each government body as this coronavirus crisis evolves, and beyond, is critically important.”
“Children are dealing with a number of social, emotional and physical stressors amid this pandemic, and as schools prepare to reopen that places great responsibility on our school nurses,” said Lampitt (D-Burlington, Camden). “A nurse consultant operating at the state-level will bolster current policies and practices to ensure we are most capable to utilize and support our school nurses across the growing spectrum of student health needs.”
An annual report would need to be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature detailing the Consultant’s activities during the year and any specific recommendations relating to school nursing services.
The Senate approved the bill 35-3 on June 29 and it now goes to the Governor’s desk.