Back to School: Tips from an Anchorage school nurse

With the new school year right around the corner we spoke with a school nurse who has a few tips for parents before their student walks through the door.
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 8:56 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Students, teachers and staff are all at varying levels of excitement for the upcoming school year, and that includes school nurses.

“That’s why we’re here, we love our children,” said Debbie Hinsberg, a school nurse at Rabbit Creek Elementary School.

With just a few days to go before the doors open to students, Hinsberg is preparing for the upcoming school year and she encourages parents to do the same. In relation to health and medical needs, that means updating a child’s health history when going through the registration process, and turning in any required paperwork if a child has any medication needs.

Hinsberg also advises parents to try and get their children back on a good sleep schedule ahead of the first week of classes.

“The average elementary student needs about ten hours of sleep, middle and high schoolers need at least eight to nine hours of sleep,” she said.

The nurse’s office is an important part of any school, but during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has taken on an even larger role. Rules and regulations pertaining to student health have been in a constant state of flux thanks to the coronavirus, and Hinsberg doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

“Oh, I think we’re all putting on our Gumby hats this year as we did last year,” Hinsberg said. “I think if there was a theme, that would be the theme: we have to stay flexible and fluid.”

With a serious focus on COVID-19 mitigation, a time-honored student tradition of using the nurse to avoid a class, test, or even just other kids, is now a little bit complicated as well.

“You know, if you just need a brain break just call it a brain break,” Hinsberg said. “Let’s not call it a stomach ache because then you have to go home.”

Given what is both known and unknown at the moment, Nurse Hinsberg suggests that reaching out to ask questions may be the best option for parents.

“There’s a lot of questions out there, there’s some uncertainty out there, and sometimes to be a little proactive and to answer those questions ahead of time can help lay a foundation for a really good school year,” she said.

Though some parents may have concerns heading into the new year, Hinsberg’s advice at this point is simple: be proactive, get in any paperwork and ask questions if you have them.

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