TEMPLE, TX (FOX 44) – Hundreds of school nurses are in Temple this week for Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center School nurse conference.

The role of the school nurse is always changing from generation to generation. So, there is a constant need for training.

“I have a large group of nurses here from Belton ISD because they care about staying on top of the latest research and evidence based practice,” Belton ISD Director of Health Services Marylisa Fanning said.

In a crisis, a school nurse is the first responder there until EMA arrives, whether for a teacher or a child.

But beyond that, they wear many hats such as making sure students have received their immunizations, assisting with mental health needs, and looking for signs of abuse to name a few.

“All of these things, we have seen increase due to Covid, and so they’re more important now than ever,” Conference planner Taylor Williams said.

Fanning says students come to the nurse for just about anything.

“Mental health… we’ve been seeing lots of visits,” Fanning said.

Taylor Williams planned the conference and is the manager for nursing professional development at McLane Children’s Hospital. She says the pandemic has played a role in the need for mental health support.

“Mental health can be masked by physical complaints, so sometimes that upset stomach is really a student’s way of verbalizing they’re anxious or scared,” Williams said.

Also during Covid, Williams says the role of a school nurse shifted. Nurses they were thrown in to contact tracing, contacting parents, helping with parents’ concerns, and looking out for post-Covid symptoms.

“What does it look like? What if my kid gets it? Is it safe for them to go to school? So they really took on this role of counselor for the family and the students,” Williams said.

The conference is being recorded, and you can view it in July here.