Nationwide school nurse shortage impacts schools, students in Northeast Florida

57 nurses cover 157 Duval County schools

Action News Jax is asking questions about why Duval County Public Schools can’t put a nurse in every school.

We told you last week how a nationwide nurse shortage is impacting local districts.

Monday, we asked what DCPS would do if there was an emergency.

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Through a public records request with DCPS, Action News Jax found out they have 57 nurses covering their 157 schools.

That’s roughly one nurse for every three schools.

“They need more [nurses],” said Jacksonville mother, Jazmin Aponte.

Aponte’s 4-year-old son, Jayden, battles anemia.

She worries his condition could make him weak, and if he were to fall or suffer an emergency at his elementary school, she hopes a school nurse would be there to help.

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“Two months ago, it started coming up worse and he has some days that he feels down,” Aponte said.

The National Association of School Nurses blames shrinking budgets for the nurse shortage.

“It would be [a concern], because there’s a lot of kids in the school,” Aponte said.

Monday, we asked DCPS about its nursing numbers, how it staffs schools, and how parents can be assured students -- especially those with health issues -- are being cared for.

DCPS sent Action News Jax the response below from Media Relations Supervisor, Laureen Ricks:

Nurses are staffed at schools based on the medical needs of the students. Some district schools have site-based Registered Nurses (RNs) and/or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) who serve students; including medically fragile students with chronic health conditions requiring advanced nursing skills ordered by a physician. However, each Duval County Public School is supported with a Florida Department of Health RN who visits the school – on average –  on a bi-weekly basis and assists and trains staff with caring for sick or injured students and conducting health screenings. Additionally, designated staff at each school is trained in CPR and First Aid and providing care with an AED in the event of a medical emergency. Regardless of school, staff is trained to contact 911 in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Only three out of five schools in the country have a full-time school nurse.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one registered nurse in every school, but there are no federal laws regulating school nurse staffing.
  • 25% of schools across the country don't have any school nurse, according to the executive director of the National Association of School Nurses, Donna Mazyck.
  • A quarter of children/students suffer from a chronic illness like asthma or diabetes.
  • Lack of school nurses in schools impacts the lives and safety of students with chronic illnesses, according to Mazyck.
Breakdown of nurses in our Northeast Florida counties: 
  • Duval County Public Schools told Action News Jax that it has 57 full-time nurses for its 157 campuses.
  • Baker County Schools has six full-time nurses for its six schools.
  • St. Johns County Schools told Colburn they have nurses in all of their schools as well as floater nurses.
  • Clay and Putnam counties are working to get the breakdown of nurses to schools to Colburn.