A new coordinator of nursing services for the St. Joseph School District is set to take office at the end of June.

Tamara Smith-Hinchey will serve as the new coordinator after Maria Burnham retires at the end of the month.

Smith-Hinchey was a nurse at Mosaic Life Care in the ICU and hospice, as well as a school nurse at Carden Park Elementary School. She said she believes one of the biggest challenges regarding school health is education.

“I think that we have so many kids with increased health problems in the last 20 years,” Smith-Hinchey said. “Kids are coming to school with diabetes, kidney failure and so many more complex health issues than they did in the past, so it’s really important for nurses to be in the building to help with those issues.”

Smith-Hinchey said it is important that children are as healthy as possible so they are in school and not missing out on learning.

“I think my goals for the St. Joseph School District would be to educate students and families on healthy habits and provide those resources they might need, getting food, adequate sleep every night, eating a healthy diet, getting them to exercise,” Smith-Hinchey said.

As COVID-19 moves into an endemic phase, Smith-Hinchey said it is important to keep in mind mitigation tactics used during the pandemic.

“I think because we did those things (mitigation strategies), people are a lot more aware of not to send their kids to school when they are sick,” Smith-Hinchey said.

Smith-Hinchey said school officials will send kids home for at least 24 hours once symptoms are gone if they have a fever of 100 degrees or more, vomiting or diarrhea, but as the pandemic transforms, they can now see slight coughs and sneezes are not worthy of pulling a kid out of class.

Clayton Anderson can be reached at clayton.anderson@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowAnderson.

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