School Health Services Updates

Keep up to date with what’s going on, with Mary Ann Gapinski’s (Director of School Health Services/ School SBIRT Coordinator) monthly updates.DPH

School Health Services Update: June 13, 2019

Dear Colleagues, Many schools are already finished for the year and many more are ending this week and next.  This is the final MDPH Email Update for the 2018-2019 School Year and the final MDPH Email Update from me as the Director of School Health Services!  As you know, I am retiring as of June 28th as well as Janet Burke, Medication Administration Program Coordinator, who also retires the end of the month! Working with each of you has been such a wonderful experience, and I will cherish the memories forever. Life is fleeting, so I have decided to retire and leave behind the workforce (and the daily commute to Boston!) so I can enjoy reading, biking, walking the beach and watching... More

School Health Services Update: May 17th, 2019

Dear Colleagues, It is the season for award ceremonies and graduations! Please see the section on School Nurses in the News for a listing of School Nurses and other colleagues who have been recognized for their achievements!  It is amazing the impact and accomplishments of School Nurses have our students and families across the state due to the dedication of these professionals!  Please continue to send me any exciting news of colleagues that I can share! Hope to see many of you at the School-based Medicaid program for school nurses this coming Thursday, May 23rd.  Just a reminder that this program is being held to discuss Nursing services in schools (including pre-planned services, 1-on-1 nursing, unplanned visits, and health screenings, etc.): When:... More

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School Health Services Update: May 1, 2019

Dear Colleagues, This year, National School Nurse Day is next Wednesday, May 8th (it’s always the Wednesday during National Nurses Week). Since 1972, School Nurse Day has been set aside to recognize school nurses. National School Nurse Day was established to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.  This is truly an opportunity to  honor school nurses everywhere and all that they do!!  But what if no one knows who you are and the credentials you have worked hard to obtain? What if no one knows the advance skills you possess to deliver nursing care in schools?  Or no one understands what complex services can be provided to children by the school nurses in your... More

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School Health Services Update: April 3rd, 2019

Dear Colleagues, It’s been another busy week meeting with school nurses at regional meetings in the Northeast, Southeast and Western Regions!  Thank you for your attendance and participation at these essential programs.  And thank you to our Regional Consultants for always providing the most current updates and information needed by school health staff at these programs!  (We look forward to meeting with school nurses in the Central Region next week!)  And please know that the Regional Consultation Program will continue as part of the Comprehensive School Health Services (CSHS) program and we hope all of you – in both public and non-public schools – will continue to participate in this opportunity for networking, consultation and technical assistance in order to improve... More

School Health Services Update: March 15th, 2019

Dear Colleagues, It was an inspiring, reflective and emotional day on Wednesday!  We heard from extraordinary School Nurse Leaders from across the state as to how they broke free of the “glass cage” to lead with courage, power and voice!  We listened to their stories of growth through their mistakes and their triumphs addressing the needs of their students and staff! We heard their strategies for dealing with difficult managers and co-workers.  We learned how they gathered, analyzed and used data to support their requests for additional staff and resources.  Many thanks to each of them, Jill Gasperini, Laurie Melchionda, Barbara Singer, Rita Casper, Pam Ciborowski, Cheryl Barczak, Debra McGovern, Cynthia Carbone, Marie Fahey, Phyllis DuComb, and Pamela Rivers for sharing... More

School Health Services Update: March 6th, 2019

Dear Colleagues, NASN’s Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice ( provides structure and focus for the key principles and components of current day, evidence-based school nursing practice. Central to the Framework is student-centered nursing care that occurs in collaboration with the students’ family and school community. Surrounding the students, family, and school community are the key principles of Care Coordination, Leadership, Quality Improvement, and Community/Public Health. These principles are surrounded by the fifth principle, Standards of Practice, which is evidence-based, clinically competent, quality care. School nurses daily use the skills outlined in the practice components of each principle to help students be healthy, safe, and ready to learn. We know that the number of children who attend school and have... More

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School Health Services Update: February 13th, 2019

Dear Colleagues, With permission, I am attaching a letter that Pam Vaughn, RN, BSN, School Nurse at the Harrington Elementary School in Lexington, recently received from a grateful student. It’s the reason why we do what we do every day! While Pam is not alone, I’m sure in receiving a note of appreciation from a student, a staff member or from a family member, we often fail to acknowledge the good we do with our peers – and supervisors! I want to thank Jill Gasperini, the Director of School Health Services for the Lexington Public Schools for sharing this letter with us! Remember, as Maya Angelou once said, “They will forget what you do, they will forget what you say, but... More

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School Health Services Update: January 30th, 2019

Dear Colleagues, Included in the email below is a new American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement that recommends among other things that pediatricians avoid writing excuses for school absences when the absence is not appropriate.  Both excused and unexcused absences contribute to chronic absenteeism and pediatricians must partner with schools to encourage school attendance.  This may be the time for you to work with your local pediatricians and educate them as to how they should be encouraging school attendance and not provide notes for absences that they have not deemed appropriate.  Please also note that this policy statement encourages families to share health concerns with their child’s school nurse. This year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health marks its 150th Year!... More

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School Health Services Update: January 22nd, 2019

Dear Colleagues, It’s a busy (shortened week) filled with Regional Meetings in the West, Southeast and Northeast!  If you work in one of these areas, we hope to see you there!  In the meantime, here are some limited, but important updates for this week! Thank you for all you do- every day – to serve our students and their families! Mary Ann and the School Health Team Ask yourself three questions ... and you will know who you are. Ask: what do you believe in? What do you hope for? But most important -- ask: what do you love?   Paullina Simons, author, in "The Bronze Horseman" SCHOOL NURSES IN THE NEWS! Allison MacGilvray, BSN, RN, NCSN, School Nurse Medford Public Schools has achieved recognition as a... More

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School Health Services Update: January 18th, 2019

Dear Colleagues, With an impending snow storm looming for the coming weekend, I hope you – and all the children you serve – find yourselves in a warm, dry and safe home.  We look forward to seeing many of our at the regional meetings in the west, southeast and northeast next week! Several issues have risen to our attention this week; one concerning the preparation of “home-prepared tube feeding preparations”.  I want to remind nurses of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing Advisory Ruling on Nursing Practice, Title: Infusion Therapy, Advisory Ruling Number: 9204 most recently revised in May 2015 which states, that an RN or LPN must “Not administer an infusion solution that the nurse has not procured, removed from... More

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School Health Services Update: December 4th, 2018

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Bureau of Community Health and Prevention’s School Health Services (SHS) Unit is seeking applications from local public school districts, regional school districts, local boards of health that provide school health services, charter schools, vocational-technical schools, educational collaboratives and non-public (non-profit) schools, including approved special education schools for the Comprehensive School Health Service (CSHS) Affiliated  Program. The proposed Comprehensive School Health Services (CSHS) Programs (formerly Essential School Health Services) are intended to provide additional support to the existing required baseline of quality, comprehensive health services in all public and non-public (non-profit) schools.. The goal of the CSHS Program is to build on existing infrastructure to provide all school-age children access to a school health service... More

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School Health Services Update: November 14th, 2018

Dear Colleagues, It’s been a very busy week…and with the upcoming holidays, I’m sure it’s been busy in your offices as well!  We know that holidays are not always the happy times we wish they were for all children.  Thanks for keeping your door – and hearts – open to all children in need. It has been a pleasure to see so many of you at our Regional Meetings!  Thank you for your attendance and participation at these essential networking and consultation programs!  And it was wonderful to have so many attend the CSHS Bidders Conferences as well as those who “listened in” online!  Thank you for your interest in this funding for School Health Services! If your school or district has... More

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School Health Services Update: October 26, 2018

Dear Colleagues, It has been a busy week and there are a few additional updates for this week that may be both of interest to you and other school health staff in your community and time sensitive!  Please forward! We hope to see as many of you as possible at the upcoming Regional Consultation meetings! Please stay dry and warm during the impending nor’-easter this weekend….and Go Sox!! Thank you for all you do – every day! Mary Ann and the entire School Health Services Team “The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination." -- Maya Angelou, writer and civil rights activist A REMINDER:  CSHS RFR BIDDER CONFERENCES First location:   Monday October 29th 2018 Time: 1:00PM-3:00PM, UMASS Medical School, 55 N Lake Ave, More

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School Health Services Update: October 22, 2018

Dear Colleagues, I am pleased to welcome, Caitlin Pettengill, DNP, RN, to our School Health Services Team!!  Dr. Pettengill is beginning her new role as the Assistant Director of School Health Services this week and will be assuming responsibilities for many of the programs we oversee in School Health as she becomes more oriented to her role.  Caitlin’s previous experience includes clinical roles in community health centers, hospitals, home-care agencies, dialysis clinics and instructing nursing students in long-term care settings.  Caitlin earned her BSN from Northeastern University, and has completed graduate coursework in Molecular Immunology at Harvard University.  She obtained her DNP in Public Health at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and is currently enrolled in the Genetics/Genomics graduate certificate... More

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School Health Services Update: October 11, 2018

Dear Colleagues, I am pleased to announce that the MDPH CSHS RFR has been released!  Hopefully, you have received the email sent recently with details of this procurement for Comprehensive School Health Service funding!  Details are available on the Compass website. Questions can be addressed to Alison Brill at  Per state procurement protocols, responses to all inquiries will be posted on the Commbuys website; no individual responses will be sent. All questions must be received by November 14th, 2019, for response. Congratulations to the school nurses who have recently been nationally certified as a school nurse!  Many of these nurses have been listed in these emails (with their permission) but we now have over 800+ school nurses who have achieved NCSN status... More

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October 3, 2018 CSHS RFR Update

All, The first news I have to share is the CSHS RFR is to be released soon....right on schedule!  I apologize that I have not been as available as I attempt to be but this has consumed all of my time for the past several weeks including days, evenings and nights!  But it will be worth it if we get a good response! Once it is released ALL DPH staff - including myself - must be mum on the topic.  We will not be able to respond to ANY inquiries.  All questions must be directed to the online site that will be posted and they will be answered for all to see on this same site.  We are also planning two Bidder... More

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School Health Services Update: October 3, 2018

​Dear Colleagues, A recent nursing blog written by a school nurse entitled “The Challenges of Being a School Nurse and How to Resolve Them” by Tessa Curry (found at ) highlighted the challenges of “working as the school nurse at a learning institution” and discussed how practicing nursing outside of a healthcare environment comes with its own unique challenges. We all know how this  can lead to competing interests, ethical issues, and concerns related to practicing safe nursing care. This has been highlighted recently by the challenges of school nurses in managing students with Type 1 Diabetes in our schools in collaboration with parents, primary care providers, and specialists in endocrinology.  Each of these groups has a very different understanding of... More

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School Health Services Update: September 26, 2018

Dear Colleagues, Fall has begun and the school year is in full swing!  I’m sure your office is humming with activity and lots of programming occurring!  This Email UPDATE for School Health Faculty is full of programs and resources to help you stay current in your practice! Regional meetings will be starting again soon, and we hope to see many of you there!  And please mark Wednesday, December 5th, on your calendar for our next statewide meeting.  We will be including all mental health providers, including school psychologists at this meeting to discuss such topics as DBT and Mindfulness, Challenges of Managing Crisis in Schools, and looking at Chronic Absenteeism in our schools.   Invite your colleagues to save the date! Lots more to... More

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School Health Services Update: September 17, 2018

Dear Colleagues, Thank you for participating in our statewide meeting last week.  It’s always a full agenda!  And wonderful to see so many in attendance and ready for a day packed full of information and resources!  Thank you for your presence.  And remember, the next one is scheduled for Wednesday, December 5th and we hope to see all of you (and those that weren’t able to attend this week) along with your School Mental Health Providers: school social workers, school  counselors (both guidance and adjustment), school  psychologists and any other interested staff members.  The agenda includes information related to mindfulness in schools, a grassroots School Mental Health organization, and a focus on evaluating chronic absenteeism among other topics.  We hope you... More

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School Health Services Update: August 28, 2018

All, Thanks to Patty McCaffrey, Director of Nursing for the Waltham Public Schools, we have obtained the attached pharmacy memo pertaining to the Extended Expiration Dates for Select Lots of EpiPen® 0.3 mg Auto-Injectors and its Authorized Generic. Thank you all, Mary Ann   Mary Ann Gapinski, MSN, RN, NCSN Director of School Health Services MA Department of Public Health 250 Washington Street – 5th Floor Boston, MA  02108 Website: SBIRT information:                    


School Health Services Update: August 24, 2018

Dear Colleagues, Welcome to the beginning of a new school year!  Like the children and adolescents we serve, I hope you have come back refreshed, renewed and excited for the many opportunities to improve the health and safety of our students!  There is much happening across the state….the email below is filled with important updates, new guidance, valuable resources and available continuing professional development programs for all School Health personnel!  (There are also  five attachments included with this email.)  Please be sure to forward this to your colleagues in your school building, in your district and in your community! A reminder to mark your calendar for the first statewide meeting for all School Nurse Managers to be held on Wednesday, September 12th, More

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School Health Services Update: July 7, 2018 – Summer Edition

Colleagues, While some of you are away on vacation, many of you are still providing much needed services to our students over the summer months! Many of you are working in your offices, planning programs for the coming year, sorting through volumes of new physical exams and immunization records, cleaning and sorting offices, contacting families concerning much needed services…and reaching out for consultation and assistance as needed!  Thank you for all you do! We hope everyone is provided with some rest and relaxation and time to reflect and refresh this summer. This email update is being sent now but some sections will be resent later this summer so no one misses any of the essential updates! Enjoy the summer! Mary Ann, Janet and Alison "The art... More

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School Health Services Update: April 30, 2018

Dear Colleagues, Perhaps Spring is on the way after all…with Summer fast approaching!  Don’t forget to plan some professional development for yourself as the school year winds down….here are just a few quick announcements and notices of upcoming events for school health personnel, including SHIELD’s Racial Equity in School Health: A Groundwater Approach on May 15th at Wheaton College in Norton, MA.  All members of your school health team are welcome! Register on SHIELD at:  Also attached is Save-the-Date for SHIELD’s Summer Conference!  This program will not only provide you with ANCC approved continuing education credits for nurses, but SHIELD is now a DESE approved provider of professional development for Professional Development Points (PDPs). Thank you for all you do! Mary Ann and Janet “Every... More

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All, We are attempting to update our records related to the implementation of naloxone access in schools.  Please distribute the survey below to be completed by ALL Public School Nurse Leaders/ Contacts.  Thank you very much!   Instructions Only ONE person from each school district (public school, charter school district, vocational school district, or collaborative) should complete this survey. Nonpublic schools are not included in this survey. Please forward this email to other districts in your region so we can get a response from all public school districts. The person completing the survey should normally be the Nurse Leader, or else the nurse or administrator who has the most information about the district's implementation of naloxone (Narcan). If you receive duplicate copies of this message, only complete the survey... More

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April 23, 2018

Dear Colleagues, For those of you had off last week, welcome back and sorry there wasn’t more Spring-like weather for those that remained local!  Hopefully, the warmer weather is here to stay!  And we hope you managed to get some sun and fun!    I want to thank Maureen Richichi, MS, RN, School Nurse at the Lincoln School and Lincoln’s town Public Health Nurse, for the fabulous resources she has created to prevent tick-borne diseases.  She  generously shared these materials with school nurses across the state just in time for the upcoming Spring outdoor activities and field trips! Please find these materials posted on the SHIELD website at: On the “Wheel” Resource page under Public Health: and On the Tick-borne Diseases comprehensive page: Please be... More

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April 5, 2018

Dear Colleagues, This is National Public Health Week and we salute school nurses across the Commonwealth for your invaluable contributions of public health in protecting and promoting the health and well-being of our families, schools and our communities in the Commonwealth.  National Public Health Week begins with a focus on behavioral health. Mental health and opioid addiction are impacting the overall health of our state and our country. For the second year in a row, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped.  Your work is so important to ensuring our students our the healthiest generation ever!  Here in Massachusetts, we should be proud of our status as the healthiest state in the nation according to the 2017 America’s Health Rankings report. This is a... More

March 26, 2018

Dear Colleagues, It has been wonderful to see so many at the regional meetings (that weren’t cancelled due to weather conditions!) recently.  The regional network that has been developed for all public and non-public school nurses has provided us a wonderful opportunity to meet the goals of promoting strong school nursing clinical practice and developing leadership skills for all school nurses here in Massachusetts!  Thank you for your participation and attendance!  (hope to see many of you at our Western Regional meeting on Wednesday this week!).  Thank you to our regional consultants that provide this leadership! These meetings are held at no cost to participants.   In addition, the School Health Institute For Education And Leadership Development (SHIELD) sponsored theFoundations Of School Nursing Practice Conference for all nurses new... More

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2018 Childhood Immunization Schedule

This message is from Dr. Susan M. Lett, Medical Director, MDPH Immunization Program. Please share this advisory with all pertinent colleagues and staff within your practice or institution. Dear Colleagues, The 2018 Immunization Schedule for those 0-18 years has been published. The changes in the schedule are discussed in the MMWR from February 9, 2018 (attachment 1) and are outlined below. The MMWR can be found at:   The figures, footnotes, and tables of the schedule (attachment 2) are published on the CDC immunization schedule website at: This site provides readers electronic access to the most current version of the schedules and footnotes on the CDC website. Changes to the 2018 immunization schedule for children and adolescents from birth through 18 years of age... More

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March 7, 2018

Dear Colleagues, Hope this finds you warm as we prepare for another nor’easter this week!  I hope that you and the families you work with are managing despite the storms, power losses, and other disruptions due to the severe recent storms! Regional meetings will be held over the next few weeks and I look forward to seeing many of you there as well as at the next statewide meeting in Marlboro on March 15th.  Also on the calendar for this month is our next Foundations of School Nursing Practice in MA conducted by SHIELD!  As you know this course includes four days of lecture, online and hands-on training for nurses new to school nursing in MA.  If you know someone interested in... More

March 5, 2018

To All School Nurse Managers of Public or Non-Public School Medication Administration Programs: If your school or district’s REGISTRATION FOR THE HANDLING, STORAGE AND DELEGATION OF MEDICATION ADMINISTRATION IN PUBLIC AND NON-PUBLIC DAY SCHOOL PROGRAMS and/or TRAINING FOR UNLICENSED SCHOOL PERSONNEL TO ADMINISTER EPINEPHRINE expires in June 2018, please note the following: Please  mail or fax (617-624-6062) a written request for an application to Janet Burke by April 13, 2018.   Completed applications should be mailed to Janet Burke, 250 Washington Street, 5th floor, Boston, MA 02108 by May 11, 2018 in order for the registration to become effective after June 30, 2018.   Please be sure your certificates of attendance at BOTH the online Medication Administration in a School Setting: School Nursing Practice in Massachusetts as well as the live program for School... More