It was recess and we were roughhousing, wrestling and rolling around on the playground.
I felt a sharp sting in my lower back. The other kid stood up and stared at me as I lay on the ground. He had that I-bet-I’m-in-trouble look on his face.
A pencil was sticking out of my back. During the roughhousing, the pencil in the kid’s back pocket somehow jammed itself into my back.
What did I do?
I hustled myself to the school nurse, who fixed me up, as they say in Westerns.
School nurses do a lot of fixing up.
But they don’t just extract pencils from oafish boys and administer other first aid. They do such things as monitor intravenous medication, treat anaphylactic shock from food allergies, provide ongoing health counseling, communicate with parents on further medical care, educate school staff, support the health curriculum and a lot more.
Oak Park District 97 has full-time nurses at eight of the district’s 10 schools.
Mann and Beye schools share a nurse. When the nurse is not at a school, a health clerk, trained in CPR and defibrillator, is on duty.
But a group of Mann and Beye parents are asking the district to provide a full-time nurse at each school.
School officials say they are willing to discuss the matter. But they also say the health needs of students are being well-met.
Certainly compared with much of the rest of Illinois and the United States, this is true.
Illinois is 44th out of 50 states in the number of children per school nurse, according to the National Association of School Nurses. Illinois has 2,179 children per school nurse on average, as opposed to the top state, Vermont, with 396 children per nurse.
Only 45 percent of U.S. schools have a full-time nurse, and 25 percent have no nurse at all. The average nurse cares for 2.2 schools.
So, Oak Park is pretty well off.
But I’m not about to argue with parents who want a school nurse right there in case their son or daughter is injured or has a medical emergency.
Beye and Mann parents wanting a full-time school nurse makes perfect parent sense.
I wish them well.