ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As part of a new initiative, Orange County is in the process of hiring a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse for every public school in the county. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said the district’s biggest concern is finding those additional LPNs.
Dr. Jenkins said the district is working on advertising efforts to fill the 70 open LPN positions. The jobs are posted on the district’s website separated by school.
“When it comes to ratios in our schools, they are not purely based on the number of students. They’re more programmaticly based. If schools have particular programs like the ESE program, they might have to have an RN or LPN,” Jenkins said.
The role of a school LPN includes providing medical care and services to students like administering prescriptions, treatments and addressing medical emergencies. According to the OCPS, the pay rates for LPNs range from $15.52 to over $16 an hour depending on experience.
Chief Communications Officer Scott Howat says with the COVID-19 pandemic, having nurses on campus is a necessity.
“I think every educator on campus would rely on a medical professional, especially in a pandemic knowing there are signs and symptoms and things they can look for and treat. Their expertise would be invaluable on a campus ... They would be in charge of the ‘well room’ and the ‘sick room’ managing students who may have symptoms,” said Howat.
During the OCPS Medical Advisory Committee Meeting Wednesday, Jenkins said she wants to make it clear that the schools without a nurse on staff are covered in the meantime.
“All of our schools either have a school health assistant or they have temp staff or they have nurses in place in all of our schools. In two instances I believe we have someone else who is trained - in a smaller school for example - someone in the front office may be trained to hand out medication. It’s not unusual, but in a sick clinic there would be a temp if there’s no LPN yet,” Jenkins said.
A look at other Central Florida school districts shows there are school nurse openings throughout the region, including:
- Osceola County - 3 school nurse openings
- Marion County Public Schools - 5 school nurse openings
- Lake County Public Schools - 2 LPN openings
- Seminole County Public Schools - 1 RN position open, with plans to hire more LPNs to help with COVID-19 response.