Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George wants more nurses and social workers in Boston Public Schools. During a hearing this week, Essaibi-George stressed the need for a full-time nurse and social worker in every school.
“They need to be in every school, every day, every hour to support all of our students,” she said.
The councilor said schools need to do a better job of addressing issues of mental health, trauma and bullying.
Councilor Kim Janey said she depended heavily on school nurses when she herself was in middle and high school. “They are literal life savers,” she said.
Janey worries about certain districts in Boston that experience violence more than other areas, and how that impacts students and their ability to learn. “I often wonder what that means for their ability to learn or not learn the next day,” she said.
Councilor Ed Flynn advocated for nurses and social workers who speak different languages to meet the needs of the diverse populations of Boston Public Schools.
Chief Academic Officer Charles Grandson stated that health is one of the top concerns for Boston School officials. “Healthy students are better learners,” he said.
According to Grandson, 12.5 percent of the student population faces two or more adverse childhood conditions like violence at home or homelessness. Currently, 23 percent have a disability.
Senior Director of Health Services Margaret VanCleve Rocchio said there are currently 75 school psychologists, 8 adjustment counselors, 3 clinical coordinators, 21 guidance advisor, 44 guidance counselors and 59 social workers in the Boston Public School system.
Boston Public School also works with several organizations in the city to help meet the emotional needs of the students.
There are currently 126 full-time school nurses employed. They are meeting the state recommendation 1:750 ratio for nurses and students.
Currently, 18 percent of students have asthma, 1.6 percent deal with seizures, and 6.5 percent have life threatening allergies. For the 2018-2019 school year, so far there have been 259 calls to 911 and over 190,000 visits to the health office.
Mayor Marty Walsh granted 2.3 million dollars last year to the Boston Public Schools to hire more nurses and social workers. Essaibi-George said she still wants to see more in schools.
Flynn said since budget season approaching, they should use this opportunity to advocate for more nurses and social workers this year.