OCDE partners with OC Health Care Agency to offer after-hours nursing support for schools

As more campuses resume on-site instruction, OCDE has partnered with the OC Health Care Agency to hire a team of qualified nurses who will be on-call outside of regular business hours to assist schools with isolation and quarantine protocols, disinfection instructions and other critical guidance.

Local public health officials have allocated federal CARES Act funding to staff up to 30 nurses from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. Each will be assigned to a specific region in the county, enabling school districts to have a single point of contact to support collaborative decision-making with the HCA and doctors from CHOC Children’s as needed.

Medical professional working on computer

The OC Health Care Agency has allocated federal CARES Act dollars to hire 30 nurses who will provide guidance to schools on weeknights and weekends.

Here’s how it will work: School districts and other local educational agencies will be able to contact regional nurses for consultation and guidance. If the need arises for case reporting and investigation, those regional nurses will be able to contact HCA nurses, who will communicate with physicians if needed and relay guidance back to local schools and districts. CHOC will provide the training necessary for service delivery.

“These new positions will support and supplement the work of our school nurses, administrators and health professionals while taking a regionalized approach to maintaining safe and healthy campuses,” said Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares. “We believe they will also be an important resource to help address health equity issues, with the recognition that transmission occurring anywhere in our county affects all of us.”

The on-call nurses will document their guidance by submitting detailed logs of their consultations.

Meanwhile, the HCA has augmented its staff with nurses who are assisting districts and schools throughout the day, after hours and weekends. HCA’s COVID-19 response team has extended its own hours to 8 p.m. on weeknights and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Candidates for the newly created positions must be licensed through the California Board of Registered Nursing. A California School Nurse Services Credential is also preferred. Applicants will need to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the latest public health recommendations, isolation and quarantine protocols, transmission timelines and basic infection control.

The HCA will provide funding through Dec. 30, along with relevant COVID-19 training that will be recorded to support future on-boarding sessions. OCDE and the HCA plan to monitor and assess these levels of support and will allocate additional funding to continue the program beyond Dec. 30 if needed.