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TRENTON- To ensure school nurses across New Jersey are best equipped to facilitate the health and wellness needs of students, legislation, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Karabinchak, Mila Jasey, and Pamela Lampitt, was signed into law Sept. 14.

According to a release, the new law (formerly bill A-4378) establishes the position of state school nurse consultant, within the Department of Education (DOE), who will be appointed by the commissioner of Education. They will need to be a certified school nurse, with a master's degree and demonstrated higher-level leadership experience.

The consultant will work in collaboration with the Department of Health and with other state agencies and stakeholders.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more pronounced need for schools to be equipped with the best available information and expertise to manage the health and safety of their students,” said Karabinchak (D-18th). “Having a nurse consultant will ensure their practice can be effectively standardized across districts and that school nurses have the support they need to be successful.”

The consultant will serve as a liaison and resource expert on school nursing and facilitate the development of comprehensive school health policies in line with evolving medical and legal practice among other duties.

“We are going to be relying on our school nurses in the upcoming school year more than ever,” stated Jasey (D-27th). “Making sure there is a consultant housed in the DOE who can facilitate cross-agency conversations with each government body, as this coronavirus crisis evolves, and beyond, is critically important.”

“Children are dealing with a number of social, emotional, and physical stressors amid this pandemic, and as schools prepare to reopen that places great responsibility on our school nurses,” said Lampitt (D-6th). “A nurse consultant operating at the state level will bolster current policies and practices to ensure we are most capable to utilize and support our school nurses across the growing spectrum of student health needs.”

An annual report will be required to be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature detailing the Consultant’s activities during the year and any specific recommendations relating to school nursing services.

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