Category Archives: Healthy & Ready to Learn

School Nurses are Vital

Five Ways a School Nurse Benefits the School

1) Attendance
School nurses improve attendance through health promotion, disease prevention and disease management. Students with a full-time school nurse have about half the student illness- or injury-related early releases from school where no school nurse is present.

2) Academics
Improved attendance means the healthy student is in the classroom and ready to learn. School Nurses enable better performance, which also contributes to reducing drop-out rates.

3) Time
School nurses save time for principals, teachers and staff. A school nurse in the building saves principals, teachers, and clerical staff a considerable amount of time that they would have spent addressing health concerns of students.

A school nurse in the building saves:

  • Principals almost an hour a day
  • Teachers almost 20 minutes a day
  • Clerical staff over 45 minutes a day

4) Staff Wellness
School nurses improve the general health of staff. According to school reports, principals, teachers, and clerical staff are VERY satisfied with having school nurses in their schools for several reasons:

  • Teachers can focus on teaching
  • Office staff spend less time calling parents and sending students home
  • Healthy staff means increased attendance and productivity

5) Accountability
School nurses help schools stay accountable.

  • Promoting compliance with federal and state law mitigates lawsuits
  • Advocating for adequate staffing aligns with Healthy People 2020 recommendations of the ratio of one school nurse per 750 well students (1:750)
  • Preparing for emergencies saves lives and property
  • Addressing student mental health links to academic achievement

School nurses are instrumental in the identification and referral to community resources for health risks and are often the only health professional who see students on a regular basis. School nurses are responsible for:

  • Significantly decreasing the amount of days missed due to asthma, the leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for more than 14 million missed days annually
  • Managing students with chronic conditions such as diabetes and seizures to allow them to stay in class
  • Identifying and treating accidents and injuries
  • Counseling students about physical and emotional issues

SOURCE: National Association of School Nurses

One family member’s story…

Tracy Grant shares the tragic story of how her niece, Mercedes Mears, died of anaphylactic attack due to severe asthma because the school nurse was at one of the other two schools she was assigned to and an untrained school staff member under-responded.

She is now an advocate for having a school nurse in every school and has joined WISH to work toward health equity for all children.

Immunizations Saves Lives

Immunizations are one of the greatest medical success stories in human history because they have saved millions of lives and prevented illness and lifelong disability in millions more.

We can prevent many serious childhood disease by using vaccines routinely recommended for children. Since the introduction of these vaccines, rates of diseases, such as menigits, polio, rubella, and diphtheria have declined by 95 to 100 percent.

Before we had vaccines, hundreds of thousands of children got infected and thousands died in the U.S. each year from these diseases. Without immunization or low rates of immunization, serious outbreaks can recur.

Vaccine Safety

All parents want to do what’s best for their kids and vaccine safety is a concern for many. Parents get a lot of conflicing information online, in the press, and in books and magazines. The Washington State Department of Health developed a guide, Plain Talk About Childhood Immunization, which gives you the facts and answers the most common questions parents have about vaccines.


Recommended Immunization Schedule

We know you want to protect yourself and your child from disease. But it’s hard to keep straight all the different diseases and the vaccines that can prevent them. Vaccines do such a great job of preventing dangerous diseases that it’s easy to forget what diseases look like, how easy they can spread, and the real-life effects of getting them. Learn more about diseases and the vaccines that can prevent them.

You can print off and follow this easy to read chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also available in Spanish).

Adolescent Immunizations

Adolescence is the right time to check on immunization status.   Among the most important vaccines are those recommended for the first time at age 11-12—Tdap, which protects against whooping cough; meningococcal, which protects against meningitis; and HPV, which protects against a cancer-causing virus. It is also a great time to catch-up on other important vaccines like MMR, hepatitis B, and chickenpox.

The National Association of School Nurses has partnered with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and other leading organizations to improve immunization rates among adolescents.

SOURCE: Washington State Department of Health and National Association of School Nurses

Essentials for Childhood

All children need healthy and supportive relationships and environments to help them learn and grow.

These relationships and environments are essential for lifelong health and success. When children experience trauma, violence, maltreatment, or adversity, it can cause toxic stress that can have a lifelong impact on their learning ability, brain development and health.

Fortunately, there are ways to enhance the natural strengths and resilience of children, families, and communities to prevent trauma and limit its impact. System-wide changes can create a healthy context for parents and caregivers, promote relationship health, and foster the development of positive, healthy outcomes for all children.

Essentials for Childhood Framework

Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments are essential to prevent child maltreatment and to assure children reach their full potential. The Essentials for Childhood Framework[PDF 5.5MB] proposes evidence-based strategies communities can consider to promote relationships and environments that help children grow up to be healthy and productive citizens so that they, in turn, can build stronger and safer families and communities for their children.



The Essentials for Childhood Framework is intended for communities committed to the positive development of children and families, and specifically to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. While child maltreatment is a significant public health problem, it is also a preventable one. The steps suggested in the Essentials for Childhood Framework — along with your commitment to preventing child maltreatment—can help create neighborhoods, communities, and a world in which every child can thrive.

State Level Implementation of the Framework

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Violence Prevention is funding five state health departments in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington to implement the five strategies in Essentials for Childhood Framework. Specifically, state health departments will

  • Coordinate and manage existing and new partnerships with other child maltreatment prevention organizations and non-traditional partners;
  • Work with partners to identify strategies across sectors;
  • Identify, coordinate, monitor and report on the strategies implemented by multi-sector partners;
  • Coordinate improvement processes (e.g., continuous quality improvement) for multi-sector partners to refine strategies; and
  • Document state-level impact of these efforts.

Who is Involved
A wide variety of partners are working to carry out the EfC vision. These include a Steering Committee, staff at the Departments of Health and Early Learning, four workgroups, and partners across the state. This work is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, private funders, and partners.

Stay Involved in EfC
The success of EfC depends on the collaboration of partners, communities, families, and individuals. If you are interested in receiving updates and learning how you can be more involved, email essentials4[email protected].

Source: Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Washington Partners Fight to End Childhood Hunger

We have all heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for children. Without a nutritious breakfast, kids are not fueled to start the day ready to learn.

Even though we know how important breakfast is, far too many kids in Washington are missing breakfast and starting the day hungry. Without that important first meal of the day, their chance to succeed at school is drastically reduced. Kids in Washington State are too hungry to learn.

In order to fight childhood hunger, we have school nutrition programs that provide nutritious meals to low-income children at a free or reduced price. However, while the school lunch program is reaching most eligible children, only 33% of eligible low-income students in Washington are eating school breakfast. This low participation rate puts our state at 41st – in the bottom 20 percent – among states in the number of low-income children who eat school breakfast.

Breakfast served at school helps fight hunder

One of the main reasons that eligible children aren’t eating school breakfast is that most school breakfast programs require kids to get to school early in order to eat. School bus schedules, friends on the playground, carpools, and social stigma all create real barriers to kids accessing breakfast at school.

The good news is there’s a solution: Breakfast After the Bell incorporates the most important meal into the school day and will ultimately increase achievement levels.

Breakfast After The Bell gives kids food where and when it matters most. By moving breakfast to after the bell and including it as part of the school day (just like lunch), breakfast participation increases. Schools that more effectively get their students a healthy breakfast find that kids do better academically in class, are better behaved, and have less visits to the nurse during the school day.

Watch this interview with two Washington State Elementary School principals about why they believe in serving school breakfast after the bell.

Click here to see progress of the bill to expand “Breakfast After the Bell” meal service for low-income students across the state.

Source: Breakfast After the Bell

Breakfast After the Bell Program Combats Obesity

See how programs like what they have at White Center Heights Elementary are aimed at fighting childhood obesity may end up in more schools.