Michigan schools face nurse shortage as COVID continues to spread

As Michigan schools prepare for more COVID outbreaks, school nurses are on the frontlines for thousands of students, teachers and families.

DETROIT – As Michigan schools prepare for more COVID outbreaks, school nurses are on the frontlines for thousands of students, teachers and families.

According to the National Association of School Nurses, Michigan is one of seven states that doesn’t keep track of how many school nurses are taking care of students. The last comprehensive check was in 2014. At the time, Michigan had about 500 school nurses, leaving about 800,000 students without a full-time nurse.

View: MDHHS School-Related Outbreak Reporting

Over the past few years, the nationwide shortage of nurses has taken its toll on districts in particular. Michigan Association of School Nurses president Rachel VanDenBrink was hesitant to use the word exhausted to talk about nurses, but she said it’s the best way to describe what the last 18 months have been like.

View: Tracking COVID outbreaks in Michigan schools, colleges (updated weekly)

The 2021-22 school year presents new challenges, rampant misinformation, more forceful pushback on masks and new resistance to vaccine mandates.

“We’re frontline again. It’s hard,” VanDenBrink said. “That’s where I use the word exhausted because you’re heads up with these families who don’t want their kids home, and we don’t blame them.”

School nurses are in high demands but in short supply.

Read: Tracking Michigan school districts, colleges requiring masks for 2021-2022 school year


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About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.