NEW BEDFORD — In a time where school nurses are most important than ever to help keep kids in school, Anna Manny will step in as nurse manager and rotate throughout the 19 schools of the Diocese of Fall River.
On top of normal nurse responsibilities, Manny faces a new challenge: differentiating between the common cold, flu and COVID-19.
“It’s a tough position,” Manny said. “Kids are coming to school sick but we don’t know, the symptoms are very similar.”
Throughout her 30 years as a registered nurse, the Freetown resident has worked in schools for 18 years, both through the Diocese and in New Bedford area public schools. She has been the school nurse at St. James St. John School for 14 years and has taken on this new role of nurse manager for schools stretching from Attleboro to Cape Cod. She will oversee 25 school nurses. She holds a bachelor of science in nursing, is a registered nurse and holds a National Board for Certification of School Nurses certification.
“Navigating the ever changing requirements of COVID has been challenging for school nurses,” Daniel S. Roy, superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Fall River said in a press release. “Anna’s front line expertise and understanding of school nursing will be a great benefit to ensuring all school nurses follow consistent guidelines. Moreover, her ability to interpret medical data and its application to the school setting will help ensure the safety of our students, faculty and families.”
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In the past year, teachers have taken on some of the basic responsibilities of a nurse, to help ease the burden the nurses face with endless COVID-19 paperwork, "Test and Stay" programs and more. Manny said she equipped each classroom with basic First Aid supplies, such as Band-Aids to treat minor wounds. She would rather keep students who aren’t exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms away from those who are, in her office.
“Anna has been a blessing to SJSJ as she led this entire school through the early confusion of the pandemic to where we are today,” Cristina Vivieros-Serra, principal of St. James St. John School said in a press release. “Everyone at SJSJ loves Nurse Anna!”
A typical day for the nurse manager
Manny operates as the school nurse at St. James St. John School until 1 p.m. and then switches to school nurse manager working from the same office. She has to be ready to go if she needs to visit a school or attend a meeting.
“I love my job at St. James St. John, I’m not ready to give that up,” Manny said. “I’m here if they need me for anything.”
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While the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for children age 5 through 11, Manny has yet to set up any official vaccination clinics. She said she is in close contact with the local boards of health to discuss any future options, as each clinic needs to have a certain amount of confirmed individuals willing to be vaccinated. In this case, she needs at least 25 students who are interested in receiving the vaccine, but many have already received the first dose at pediatric offices and pharmacies.
“Parents are already being proactive,” Manny said. “We have to get some sort of normalcy back. Now you question every symptom and always have to err on the the side of caution.”
Standard-Times staff writer Kerri Tallman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @kerri_tallman for links to recent articles.
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This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: Amid COVID, Fall River Diocese hires nurse manager over 19 schools