As you are likely aware, yesterday President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP). The ARP includes $125 billion in federal support for schools—much-needed funding that can be used to improve ventilation, reduce class sizes and allow for social distancing, purchase personal protective equipment, and hire additional school nurses to support the health and well-being of students.
This hard-won victory comes at a critical time for schools and, most importantly, the students who drive and inspire the work of school nurses across the country on a daily basis. As you well know, the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded the learning of students and undermined their physical and mental health. Prior to the pandemic, schools were already woefully understaffed with regard to nurses and other support personnel. As schools reopen, nurses have a critical role in ensuring that schools effectively address issues related to the health and well-being of children, including the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on youth. All students deserve to have their health care needs met while at school and especially during a pandemic.
Thank you for the important role you played in advocating for this funding. Since COVID-19 began a year ago, we have joined together to ensure that our elected leaders understood the critical need for more school nurse funding. Your advocacy, including participating in NASN’s Virtual Hill Day, during which our social media messages reached 64,0000 people, and the 16,000 individuals who signed our petition calling for federal funding for an additional 10,000 school nurses, was essential. Your stories, in the countless articles and media features that spotlighted the work you have done to manage this pandemic, and to establish safter, healthy learning environments for students ensured that the voices of school nurses were heard.
While it is appropriate to celebrate this achievement, the reality is that we have a lot of work ahead of to make certain that this infusion of federal funding is invested in ways that will most effectively achieve the goals of safer classrooms and schools, improved student physical and mental health, and academic readiness. To this end, in the coming weeks we will work closely with NASN state affiliates to identify how we can best support your continued advocacy at the state, and most importantly, local levels as budgets incorporating funding from the ARP are developed. At the same time, NASN will of course remain a strong voice in Washington, D.C. for school nurses and continue our work with our coalition partners.
Again, thank you for all you did to help achieve this tremendous victory. With your continued engagement, we will work together to help build a brighter, healthier future for all students and, in doing so, stronger, more equitable communities.