Kansas hiring consultant to assist districts dealing with COVID-19

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 4:55 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is looking to provide assistance to schools across the state when it comes to COVID-19 and students’ health. The agency is hiring a nurse for a school health clinical consultant job.

According to the job description, the position will “provide consultation and technical assistance to schools at the building level (nurses, administration, teachers), school districts, local education agencies, public health agencies, parents/guardians, families, and other child and adolescent providers/partners regarding specific school health challenges.”

The description goes on to say the person will “serve as the primary liaison between KDHE and Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to facilitate and support shared decision making and activities related to school health, school nursing, and other health issues.”

Ronda Hutchinson is the president of the Kansas School Nurses Organization. She is also a nurse for Wichita Public Schools. She said she and her organization are excited.

“It’s important to have that one person to at least give some guidelines and policies for schools to follow so people aren’t confused,” she said.

Hutchinson added, “The School Health Clinical Consultant will be a go-to person, not only for school nurses but for districts, families, as well as other agencies throughout Kansas that are advocating for children’s health.”

The Kansas School Nurses Organization has been advocating the return of this position since it was lost in 2015 budget cuts.

Since that, Hutchinson said for the last few years, she and other KSNO members in their free time tried to fill the void.

“The Kansas School Nurses Organization is a group of nurses throughout Kansas that have been doing a lot of the things we hope this new person at the state level will take over for us. Certainly, we want to continue to be involved because it takes a team to get things done and a lot of different minds to come up with good plans. So this person will collaborate with KSNO to do that," she said. “Right now, we do a lot of that on our own time. We volunteer our own time as well as take off work.”

Hutchinson said with the added pressures school nurses are under and trying to respond to the pandemic, it’s valuable to know there’s a place they can turn for help.

“Get that advice that they need, especially during COVID. It’s difficult for school nurses to know exactly what to do, especially if they’re the only school nurse in their district and they might be taking care of kids in multiple schools,” she said. “They may not have a specialist or a nurse coordinator like we have here in Wichita.”

Hutchinson said the organization and consultant will work together closely since the role covers everything from nutrition and health screenings to immunizations, disease monitoring and mental health.

KDHE said it now has sustainable funds for the position. It said once the consultant is hired and trained, their first priority will be COVID-19.

KDHE is taking applications through the end of October.

Hutchinson said her hope is the consultant will be in place at KDHE by the start of 2021.

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