Students’ health impacts their ability to learn
By Robert Cloud
Kandi Martin, director of pupil service for the New London School District, delivered a report on student health to the school board during a special school board meeting on July 24.
The report had been prepared by Susan Resch, who recently retired as the district’s school nurse.
According to the report, a student’s health is directly related to their ability to learn.
“Children with unmet health needs have a difficult time engaging in the educational process,” the report said. “School nurses are in a prime position to assist the nation in addressing the critical health concerns of diversity, disparity, and social determinants.”
Quoting the International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, the report noted, ““Approximately one in 10 children in the U.S. have a chronic illness that may impact one or more aspects of their development. This could include academic performance, consistent attendances, self-esteem, social relationships and ultimately the ability to achieve the same educational outcomes as healthy peers.”
Martin told the board that all seven schools in the district have been designated as Heart Saver Schools.
That means the schools have crisis teams that are trained on the use of defibrillator equipment.
Healthy Smiles program restarted this year, after a hiatus due to COVID-19.
Martin said 359 students received care that resulted in $98,249 in preventive dental care.
The care provided included dental screenings, fluoride treatments and sealants on permanent molar teeth.
There continue to be multiple students with dental issues, according to the report.
Lions Club also provided free eye exams and glasses if needed.
“In addition to 13 pairs of glasses, they probably screened over 80 kids for free vision exams this year,” Martin said regarding the Lions’ efforts.
Communicable diseases creep upward
While the number of covid cases in New London has continued to drop, the district’s overall illness rates for communicable diseases, such as “strep throat, influenza, pink eye, gastrointestinal illness and respiratory illness have steadily crept up upward throughout the school year,” the report said.
Eight diabetic students accounted for a total of 1,869 doses of insulin in the district. Staff also spent time supervising diabetic students calculate the carbohydrate counts in their meals and snacks and calculating the amount of insulin they should be taking.
“Approximately 10% of medical staff’s time at the (high school) and (Sugar Bush) is spent caring for the eight diabetics in the district,” the report said.
Martin noted that the district is in its fifth year of the Blue Loop program through CHW-Fox Valley, which provides immediate access of blood-sugar numbers to school staff, CHW medical staff and parents.
A total of 21,324 students were seen in the health office and they received a total of 6.51 doses of medication.
Among its concerns the report noted that the health office continues “to see an increase in students who are uninsured, underinsured or who receive BadgerCare.”
Waupaca County lacks dental and eye care specialists who will take BadgerCare for student health insurance, “which results in lack of care, ultimately impacting their health and school success.”