- School nurses have been warning for years about their lack of resources and staff.
- With the health crisis, they are overloaded with new tasks, including contact tracing and screening.
- However, children and adolescents need their listening skills and their care more than ever to deal with both physical and psychological difficulties.
It is a profession that is little talked about. And who, however, is one of the frontline caregivers in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic. This Thursday, the
National Union of Nursing Health Advisors (Snics-FSU) organized a national mobilization and an extraordinary congress (from a distance of course).
The goal: to ask the Ministry of National Education (with an open letter) to hear their claims. And to alert the press to the working conditions of school nurses, degraded by the epidemic and government decisions. And this while the needs of pupils and students are crying out.
The Covid-19 to the detriment of the rest
There are currently 7,703 school nurses for 12.4 million students. As for school doctors, it is an endangered species: less than 800 exercised this profession at the start of the 2020 school year. The shortage of caregivers would therefore be difficult to deny. For years, school nurses have sounded the alarm bells about the lack of resources and staff. And in recent months, the epidemic has increased their tasks and responsibilities a little more. Everything now revolves around the Covid-19. Since the start of the school year, school nurses have been responsible for explaining barrier gestures and carrying out the
contact tracing when a student is infected. “The workload is becoming untenable, warns Saphia Guereschi, secretary general of the
Snics-FSU. We have colleagues in burn-out, who resign, many seek to leave the National Education… ”
So when on November 6, these school health professionals discover that they will also be asked to carry out antigenic tests in establishments, it is the last straw. On November 10, they decided to organize this virtual mobilization day, this Thursday, which would have mobilized around 900 nurses.
“It’s normal to be called upon as a health professional, but the means are not given to us to face this crisis,” explains the general secretary of the union. We are sure that other professionals would be available and willing to carry them out, in particular liberal nurses. The Snics-FSU also suggests, in a letter to Jean-Michel Blanquer, to install screening areas close to establishments. Precision of size: these school nurses are called upon on a voluntary basis. In case of lack of arms, it is expected that first aiders and firefighters come to help them.
Anger and incomprehension
What annoys these caregivers in particular is having to test as a priority the staff of National Education, both public and private, while their primary mission remains to take care of students. “The places to do antigenic tests have multiplied, there is no problem of access,” said Marie-France Maghdad, academic secretary in Besançon. Since the beginning of November, symptomatic and asymptomatic people can perform an antigen test (without a prescription and reimbursed) at a pharmacy. “School health personnel do not have to compensate for the lack of resources for occupational medicine in the National Education, criticizes Carla Dugault, co-president of the
Federation of parents’ councils (FCPE), invited to this congress. It is the students and their families who pay the price. “
The union recalls that these school nurses are sometimes a gateway to care … or even the only contact available. “We noticed in September that some students have experienced a break in their care path since March, illustrates Mélanie Dhaussy, school nurse in Le Havre. In our home, a diabetic student had interrupted his treatment. Not to mention the waiting times, when some children have to wait six months to get an appointment with the ophthalmologist or child psychiatrist in some regions.
The lack of listening to the field, the inconsistency of decisions and the danger of slipping tasks are everyone’s lips. “Each decision taken by the Ministry of Education is publicized even before informing staff, storm Sandy Cariat, school nurse in Montpellier. With a possible third wave in sight and vaccination. How much longer are we going to deny our role? These nurses did not benefit from the boost granted by the Health Segur to paramedics in public and private hospitals. Few of them have received the Covid premium. And they expect little from the Grenelle de l’Education. “We see that in the Grenelle, there is not much for teachers and nothing for non-teachers”, regrets Benoît Teste, secretary general of the
Unitary Trade Union Federation (FSU), the first teaching federation.
Indispensable support for young people
As we know, the health crisis has increased the psychological discomfort of young people. Not to mention that the attack that targeted Samuel Paty on October 16 added a layer of anxiety. “We are seeing an increase in anxiety syndromes linked to dropping out of school, sleep and eating disorders, the effects of visible sedentary lifestyle, an addiction to screens, list Mélanie Dhaussy, school nurse in Le Havre. Young people no longer have the possibility of socializing outside of social networks, it is a disaster for their well-being! »An urgency shared by Mathieu Devlaminck, president of the
National high school student union (UNL): “we do not even have access to a nurse in each establishment, it is very difficult in this period when the discomfort is increasing. “
“It is high time that we recognize that students need to be heard and listened to,” continues Saphia Guereschi. For weeks, other professionals have questioned public opinion about their psychological difficulties. We want to challenge our Minister to be able to refocus on what is at the heart of our profession: responding to the individual needs of pupils and students freely expressed in the infirmaries. This is why the union is calling for the tripling of the number of school nurses. And Mélanie Dhaussy concluded: “If we are not in the infirmaries, but in gymnasiums doing tests, who will welcome these students? “