Currently, Virginia doesn’t have a law mandating that all schools must employ a registered school nurse. Instead of making it a requirement, the language of the Code of Virginia section regarding “school health services” says that schools “may” employ school nurses, which leaves many of our schools without a dedicated, licensed school nurse.
22.1-274. School health services.
A. A school board shall provide pupil personnel and support services in compliance with § 22.1-253.13:2. A school board may employ school nurses, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. No such personnel shall be employed unless they meet such standards as may be determined by the Board of Education. Subject to the approval of the appropriate local governing body, a local health department may provide personnel for health services for the school division.
B. In implementing subsection O of § 22.1-253.13:2, relating to providing support services that are necessary for the efficient and cost-effective operation and maintenance of its public schools, each school board may strive to employ, or contract with local health departments for, nursing services consistent with a ratio of at least one nurse (i) per 2,500 students by July 1, 1996; (ii) per 2,000 students by July 1, 1997; (iii) per 1,500 students by July 1, 1998; and (iv) per 1,000 students by July 1, 1999. In those school divisions in which there are more than 1,000 students in average daily membership in school buildings, this section shall not be construed to encourage the employment of more than one nurse per school building. Further, this section shall not be construed to mandate the aspired-to ratios.
On top of the deficiencies in our current state law, registered school nurses also aren’t required by the Virginia Department of Education’s Standards of Quality, which outline the educational programs and services that each district is required to provide.
These are the two major deficiencies we are fighting to correct through our legislative efforts (2021).