Legislation to promote quality school nursing services and school health programs, by establishing the position of State School Nurse Consultant in the Department of Education was recently signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy The bill is sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Richard Codey.

“I am grateful the Governor saw the value in this legislation. When the Education Recovery Taskforce met to discuss health and safety, the school nurses were clear about the need for a statewide school nurse consultant to streamline protocols and ensure uniformity around the state,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “As schools reopen, our school nurses are more important than ever before in ensuring the health and wellbeing of our students. Strong lines of communication between the Department of Education, the Department of Health and our nurses on the ground is crucial. Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, the consultant will help to strengthen our health programs and ensure all districts are meeting high-quality standards.”

The law would require the Commissioner of Education to appoint a State School Nurse Consultant to work with school districts and school nurses to promote quality school nursing services as well as school health programs that address the broad health needs of students through the State.

“While school reopenings may look different from district to district, the quality of care students are receiving from their school nurses should be uniform,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris). “As we welcome students back to the classrooms, the work of our school nurses is critical to protecting the health and wellbeing of our students, teachers and staff.”

The person appointed to the position is required to be a certified school nurse who holds a master’s degree and has demonstrated higher-level leadership with recent school nursing experience.

The last school nurse to work at the Department of Education retired in 2015.

New Jersey joins forty-four other states throughout the country with similar roles in place. New Jersey State School Nurses Association (NJSSNA) president Dorian Vicente said in statement that school nurse consultant is crucial as students go back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“School nursing services are vital to the health and safety of students,” said Vicente. “Having a highly qualified School Nurse Consultant will serve as a centralized resource for information and provide guidance and leadership for certified school nurses, administrators, staff and parents. This key leadership role will coordinate efforts to address the complex and changing health and safety needs of New Jersey’s 1.4 million students.”

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