10/15/20 MDPH School Health Unit Update

Greetings from the School Health Unit!

It was so wonderful to see so many of you at the CSHS state meeting last week!  I hope you found it as helpful as I did to hear about self and collective care from our very talented colleagues from the BRYT program.  We had about 90 participants in the live course and the recorded version should be ready very soon.  Once we collect data from both versions on preferred meeting times, we will set the times for the remaining meetings and communicate those to you.  Regional Nurse Leader meetings are starting up again this week and next, so don’t forget to register!  Additionally, we are holding a CSHS grant orientation meeting on October 15th with a repeat session on October 29th; please join us if you are a new nurse leader in a grant funded district or even if you are experienced nurse leader who just wants to brush up on grant essentials.  Lastly, we are hosting a virtual clinical update throughout November (four sessions each running 1.5 hours), in collaboration with other DPH partners, focusing on asthma.  The program will cover such topics as: how healthcare inequities and social determinants of health impact asthma management, current medication management, asthma in the time of COVID, and more!  Registration information for all these programs can be found here.



EXAMPLE_DPH Grant Amendment Request

Guidelines for Submitting Budget Amendments

A few updates and articles are below. I hope your three day weekend was restful and somewhat rejuvenating.  As the days get shorter and colder, please put that oxygen mask on regularly.  A reminder of my goals for self-care (and permission to steal!):

  • Reduce the word “should” in my vocabulary.
  • Recognize that rest is not just a reward for exhaustion.
  • Resist wearing my stress as a badge of honor.
  • If I need help, ask for it.

Here is a link to a Brene Brown podcast in which she discusses the book, “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” with the authors Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA.  It’s about an hour long, but if you can make the time it is chock full of insight and tips on avoiding or reducing burnout, all based in research on the human physiological response to stress.  I found myself saying “ohhhhhhh” a lot while listening.



UPDATE on CSHS funds

You may have noticed in the Governor’s budget, released yesterday, that the School Health line item seems to have been reduced.  The reduction is primarily the removal of some one-time funding in FY20 which we were ultimately unable to award. Also, this line has typically had a number of earmarks which are (as is usual) eliminated in the Governor’s budget.  We do have enough funding to maintain the contracts that we have with all the existing CSHS grants, including the Regional Consultant funding, as well as all our staff.  We’re very encouraged to see that our revised budget is the same as the Governor’s initial pre-pandemic budget, and so we are essentially level-funded.


A few things to note:

  • All payment vouchers have gone out and you should look for payments within two weeks or so of returning PV’s to us. We may need to issue funds in three payments this year (you will notice a smaller first payment).  This was to allow for the state budget to be finalized; as you may be aware it has been delayed due to COVID and difficulty predicting revenues this year. Please sign the PV on the gray shaded area where it says Vendor Certification and email  back to Juliet at your earliest convenience. Do not put in the U.S. Postal mail as we are still not working from our offices and have limited access to our mail.
  • The FY20 reconciliation form submission deadline has been extended from October 15 to October 30.
  • We hope to have reconciliation forms sent out by Friday October 16th.  If that is delayed, we will extend the deadline further.
  • Amendments can be submitted anytime up until March 31st. We may be able to extend this deadline, and will let you know if we can.
  • Updated instructions, a blank form for amendments and an example of an amendment are attached to this email.  Please email Juliet Berk with any questions in regards to budgets.

School nurses in the news!

School Nursing and Public Health: The Case for School Nurse Investigators and Contact Tracing Monitors of COVID-19 Patients in Massachusetts (written by Westfield school nurse Elizabeth A. Flaherty!):



An article recently published in the New York Times:

Now Taking the Stage in the Pandemic: The School Nurse


Karen Robitaille, MBA, MSN, RN, NCSN
<she, her, hers>
Director of School Health Services
Division of Child/Adolescent Health and Reproductive Health
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington St. 5th floor, Boston, MA 02108
cell 781-675-0463
Personal Webex room: https://statema.webex.com/meet/Karen.Robitaille3