Cleveland Metropolitan Schools hires dozens of health professionals as students return

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Northeast Ohio’s largest school district welcomed back thousands of students after a year of remote or hybrid learning Monday.

New this year, Cleveland Metropolitan Schools are taking proactive steps to protect the health of students on school grounds.

A health professional will now be in every school building to provide students with access to health care if they become ill at school.

“We already have an awesome team of about 50 registered licensed school nurses,” said Carol Pennington, CMSD Interim Director of Nursing and Health Services. “We’re going to be adding a health professional in every building that will include us adding about 43 more LPNs that will work under the direction of a licensed school nurse.”

Pennington said school buildings will also feature two types of health clinics: a well clinic and a care clinic.

Well clinics will work to care for children with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or children who take medications at school.

“The care clinics are the clinics that have actually been created to not necessarily isolate, but to separate the children who are actually having symptoms or not feeling well,” said Pennington.

CMSD will continue to have a COVID-19 hotline that can be reached at 216-838-WELL.

Pennington said the hotline will be staffed by a school nurse. The goal is to be able to quickly report and contact trace any positive cases.

“What if someone tested positive for COVID over the weekend? They may have a positive case but may have been in our building Thursday, Friday so it’s important we get the word out to all our departments,” she said.

For some parents, these changes are not enough to ease their peace of mind as the Delta variant continues to surge and children under 12 years old cannot get vaccinated.

One mother said she will continue to home school her three children instead of sending them back to classrooms in person.

“Absolutely. I prayed about that too. I prefer [home school] for both of my kids,” said Jessica Catron.

CMSD created a remote academy for parents not comfortable with their children returning to in-person learning.

Students and staff are required to wear a mask inside school buildings in accordance with the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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