Nurses lead as frontline workers at Spring-Ford


Staff Photo

Spring-Ford High School nurses (from left) Bridget Mullins, Jaclyn Gospodarek, and Jill Yeager maintain student health as frontline workers.

Jackie Vickery, Managing Editor

By Jackie Vickery
Managing Editor

In the midst of a global pandemic, the Spring-Ford High School community is grateful and appreciative of our nurses and frontline workers.
Nurses Jill Yeager, Bridget Mullins, and Jaclyn Gospodarek are among the many frontline workers in the school district who manage health records, take care of student illnesses, and respond to medical emergencies that arise during the course of a typical school day.
This year, the nurses are taking extra precautions to protect the entire high school during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
“The daily routine is much different than last year,” said Gospodarek, who also serves as the COVID Coordinator at the high school. “I am available 24/7 since symptoms, results, and communications about exposure can come at any time and directly effects if people are able to come to school.”
If a student displays COVID-19 symptoms while in the building, they are evaluated by nurses, isolated, and sent home to quarantine for 10 days. Fearlessly taking the lead in this public health effort is all part of the training these dedicated nurses have prepared for.
“We never feel nervous,” Gospodarek said. “As nurses, we are educated about infectious diseases and trained on the proper precautions.”
One of the most important parts of a school nurse’s day during this pandemic is facilitating contact tracing. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, contact tracing is defined as “the process of identifying, notifying, and monitoring anyone who came in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 while they were infectious.”
While nurses coordinate this effort, it ultimately is a team endeavor.
“Contact tracing has become a new part of the nursing routine” said Yeager, who added that teachers also play an important role. “(Teachers are) often the first notified of positive cases and they assist in the contact tracing efforts as well. It is definitely a team approach.”
The team effort to keep students safe extends well beyond nurses and teachers, though, as administrators, students and parents share a role. Spring-Ford began the effort to get students back in school safely by developing strong precautionary measures over the summer and refining them as the year progressed.
“Spring-Ford has a lot of great precautions in place,” Gospodarek said. “Such as requiring masks for everyone in the building of both students and staff, providing a virtual learning option to reduce the number of students in the buildings, and having a great COVID taskforce. Spacing of six feet or more is also the plan for most scenarios.”
One of the major safety measures beginning to take shape across the country is delivery of newly developed vaccines for COVID-19.
As frontline healthcare workers, the high school nurses have received their first dose recently and will get a second dose in the coming weeks. Widespread vaccinations are arguably one of the most important steps toward a sense of normalcy again.
“Until we can get vaccines for everyone, we’re proud to be doing our part by getting vaccines early to set an example for others to get theirs,” Mullins said. “Hopefully the pandemic will be a blip, and the immunization will return us back to normal. Like we get our flu shot every season, this is just something we do to return to normalcy. We have to do our part. This goes for social distancing now, mask wearing, and handwashing as well.”
The Spring-Ford community is always thankful and appreciative of our frontline workers and nursing staff. Yeager, Mullins, and Gospodarek are always willing to help.
“We just have to do what we do all the time as nurses, even prior to the pandemic, by promoting healthy habits,” Mullins explained. “I try to be kind. It’s a confusing time for everyone. We’re all going through this together.”