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Columbus City Schools nurses declare state of emergency

The Columbus Education Association presented its list of demands ahead of Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A major call to action came from nurses at Columbus City Schools Tuesday. They said the expectations from the Columbus Education Association are too much because of COVID-19.

CEA gave its list of demands ahead of Tuesday's school board meeting. They’re asking for the following:

  1. Vaccination or bi-weekly testing of staff.
  2. Rapid tests to be made available for students and families.
  3. A system to check students’ symptoms each day.
  4. A COVID-19 task force in each building.
  5. Air purifiers where MERV 13 filters cannot be used.
  6. Contact tracing supplemental hours and training being made available.
  7. Including a medical professional from the Health Services Department in cabinet-level meetings.

CEA said contact tracing was a particularly large issue. They said it can take anywhere from four to five hours to trace one case, between tracking down class seating, buses, sports teams, etc. They said this is a big concern when it comes to the needs of other students.

“We are working late into the night on a daily basis and still cannot keep up; we need assistance right now,” said Jackie Broderick Patton, a school nurse.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon said they're finalizing a contract with an outside vendor to help with contact tracing.

“We want to make sure that our school nurses are there to provide the support to our students. Some of them administer medicine, but what we're finding is they're using a lot of their time for contact tracing, etc.,” the Superintendent said.

The district said it will also begin to hand out free rapid COVID-19 tests for any student or staff member who shows symptoms or is a close contact of a positive case.

Another issue for the CEA is payment; the association said nurses who have worked extra have not been paid yet.  

A spokesperson for the district said nurses do not get overtime for time spent contact tracing, but instead get "extended hours" because they are salaried workers.

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