On the Front Lines of BHS: A Look at the Day-to-Day Experiences of School Nurses Over the Past Year


Throughout students’ school careers, if they ever needed to rest, get a Band-Aid, or were just not feeling well, they would go to the health office. At BHS, that meant seeing one of the two school nurses: Maureen Webb who has worked at BHS for the past ten years, and Jessica Valin who has worked at BHS for the past seven.

Webb and Valin enjoy the variety in the job. They respond to a wide range of needs including sports injuries, headaches, cramps, or medication. The consistent connection to the students and teachers is another highlight.

BHS Nurse, Jessica Valin. Photo: Anessa Conner/Register

“I really love talking with the students,” Valin said. “I really love the staff here too.”

Since the pandemic hit in mid-March last school year their jobs have drastically changed.

While many staff and students at BHS were at home, attending classes virtually, both Webb and Valin were supporting students who were still reporting in-person. This included students in Burlington Technical Center, Burlington City and Lake, OnTop, Horizons, Special Education, and the little ones in the district pre-school.

Webb and Valin spent a lot of time contact-tracing and ensuring all the in-person programs had the necessary supplies and information for combatting Covid-19. In addition to getting supplies such as face masks/coverings, they also made sure the adults had proper training for using EpiPens and supplies for students with diabetes or any other medical conditions. 

 “Guidelines were changing on an almost daily basis so we had to be up to date as to what all those changes were and how they impacted the schools and students,” Webb said.

Staying in communication was a large part of their day-to-day job. 

“What we weren’t having was sort of the day-to-day walk-through kind of things but the parts of our job like 504 or case management or notifying people communicating with doctors’ offices, notifying teachers of health concerns,” Valin said.

BHS Nurse, Maureen Webb. Photo: Anessa Conner/Register

Now that the BHS community has found their new home, things are returning to a more normal routine. But normal is still a faraway dream with restrictions not lifted yet.

 “Covid is kind of a driving theme for this year and just keeping people safe so that we can be in school,” Webb said. “So most other things that have been part of our job have been paused for this year.”

Around this time of the year, Webb and Valin would normally be giving ninth and twelfth-grade students hearing and sight tests, but that has been put on the back burner this year along with the annual health and wellness fair.

In past years, doctors from UVM Medical Center have come to BHS for students. This year, if a student needs either a dental or wellness check, Webb or Valin arrange an appointment at the Community health center.

And, of course, their door is always open for students who need dental supplies or feminine products or condoms. The Health office is open starting at 7:30 a.m. every day and remains open for the entirety of the school day.