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The number of nurses at public schools will increase by almost 70 percent under a partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Nursing and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE). The Hawaiʻi Keiki (HK) program is expanding to provide additional nurses to serve as COVID-19 health resources and school health providers in public schools statewide. The HK program will add 15 new registered nurses (RNs) and one advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) to the current team of 23 nurses, for a total of 38 nurses to be available to work with HIDOE in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

HIDOE is using Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to address the impact of COVID-19 on students and learning in public schools. Recruitment is underway, and HK anticipates the nurses will be onboard by mid-September.

Hawaiʻi Keiki nurse Maria Pineda

Health hotline and telehealth visits

Hawaiʻi Keiki will also continue to provide no-cost health hotline and telehealth APRN visits as an extension of services provided to students in the school health room. Over the past year, a $25,000 contribution from the Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) gave students continued access to the health hotline and telehealth services during the summer. At the start of the new academic year, HMSA contributed an additional $150,000 for new technology that will allow the telehealth program to provide virtual medical examinations. The upgrade gives HK providers the ability to reach more students across the state, while focusing on both their physical and mental health care needs.

Students and families can call (844) 436-3888 (toll free) to speak to an RN or APRN about health-related concerns, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., excluding holidays. If a student needs a visit with a health provider or does not have a care provider, a telehealth appointment with a HK APRN can be scheduled.

UH Mānoa Nursing and HIDOE are committed to maintaining academic progression for all students in the time of COVID-19. As the number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi rises, the addition of RNs as a trusted health resource will benefit students, faculty and staff. RNs will provide safety protocol training, advice for COVID-19 exposed and COVID-19 positive families, rapid response to clusters or reported cases, and support for student and teacher coping and resilience behaviors.

The additional health resources at the schools will allow administrators and teachers to focus on education, while HK RNs and APRNs will focus on health concerns related to infection, transmission and state public health regulations. The HK nurses are available to teachers, principals and parents through a telephone hotline. In addition, the APRNs are providing telehealth services for families as needed.

For more see the UH Mānoa Nursing website.

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