Our nurses: keeping the FCTS educational community safe.
Nursing Office at Forefront of Successful FCTS COVID-19 Prevention Effort
TURNERS FALLS, MA – When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Franklin County Technical School quickly faced the issue head-on by implementing a number of initiatives to make the school safe for students, faculty, administration, staff and visitors.
One of the projects the school undertook was to expand the Nurse’s Office to double its size, adding exam rooms, an office, and a bathroom with a shower. The Nurse’s Office also hired Sue LaPan, LPN, to work with Kellie Grybko, the school’s RN for the last three years. “It’s been a very challenging year, but the backing of the school administration has been very key to our success,” Grybko said.
The office now has two exam rooms, three areas with a total of six beds and two offices. If a student or staff member comes to the Nurse’s Office with Covid-like symptoms, the nurses implement a plan that includes escorting the person to a private room, administering a rapid test for the virus that can give the result in 15 minutes, and initiating contact tracing to try to determine the source of the infection.
The health administrator in the community where the sick student lives is notified and they are required to quarantine for 14 days. Grybko and LaPan also give out their personal cell phone numbers to school families.
“Sue and I are on call 24/7,” she said. “We’ve had about 25 students, faculty and staff test positive for Covid. None of them were infected at the school. They got it elsewhere.”
As part of the expansion, the office also added an exit door that is a few steps from the exit to the outside of the building so there would be minimal contact between sick students or staff and other people at the school. If the student is being picked up from school, one of the nurses will walk them outside to meet their parent or guardian.
“If someone is feeling sick, they go out a private exit,” Grybko said. “They don’t expose the rest of the school.”
Once the sick person leaves the school, a maintenance crew thoroughly disinfects the office. The nurses have a book with information on every student in the school, including where they live, names of family members, where they sit in class, whether they take a bus or drive to school, whether they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and more. All of this is helpful in case there needs to be thorough contact tracing following a report of symptoms.
Testing for Covid is done constantly at the school. Every Monday, Grybko and LaPan visit all of the vocational shops to conduct pool testing, with results available the following day.
“With pool testing, we can do 10 tests in one vial,” LaPan said. “If the tests come back negative, we’re good. If the test comes back positive, we can retest everyone in that shop to see who the identified person is.”
It is the policy of the Franklin County Technical School not to discriminate on the basis of homeless status, sex, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, transgender, gender identity, creed, color, national origin or disability in its educational programs, activities or employment policies.