School Health Services Updates

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

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

February 27, 2018

From Elms College: I am happy to announce that our MSN School Nurse track launched and welcomed new students in the Fall of 2017. Currently I am registering students for our Spring semester that starts on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 and runs through Monday, June 3, 2018. All MSN courses continue to be delivered as asynchronous online; meaning you do not need to be at your computer at a specific day/time and there are no face-to-face classes on campus. As an added bonus, School Nurses are eligible for a 30% tuition reduction in all MSN required courses. That means for the Spring 2018 semester, tuition rates for School Nurses is $539/credit. Additionally, if you qualify with your employer for tuition reimbursement you are able to submit... More

February 26, 2018

Dear Colleagues, For those that were off last week, welcome back….and remember, only six weeks until Spring vacation!  And some of you will be taking your Spring break over the next few weeks!  So please take time to enjoy! There is lots of information in this edition of our School Health Updates…as there always is at this time of the year!  So much goes on between now and the end of the year…. Just a reminder of the two upcoming workshops on Racial Equity in School Health: A Groundwater Approach.  One workshop is scheduled for UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center in Lowell on March 27th and the other for Wheaton College in the Emerson Dining Hall in Norton on May 15th.  Please make... More

Ordering and Referring Requirement

Are you familiar with ordering and referring requirements? Under state law (which was required under the ACA), providers authorized to order, refer, or prescribe must register with MassHealth at least as a nonbilling provider. There’s been a series of bulletins, the most recent of which was posted online today here. The School-Based Medicaid Program is NOT editing claims based on whether providers have fulfilled this requirement at this time (there are not plans to start doing so either, but I’ll let you know if that changes). However, it is a requirement for licensure under DPH’s licensure boards. So to the extent that NPs and other providers need to be certified and licensed to participate in the SBMP and the licensure board requires... More

February 13, 2018

Dear Colleagues, Next week is February Vacation Week for many of you….I hope that you find some time to relax and enjoy a few days off and that the flu finally begins to take a break as well!  There is still lots going on to catch you up on before you go…. Please see the attached announcement from SHIELD concerning the registrations for the MDPH approved training on the issue of domestic and sexual violence as a condition of licensure (M.G.L. c. 112, § 264). The presenter for this course meets the training requirement for health care providers, including nurses, social workers and physicians.  Please inform these licenses professionals in your district that these programs are open to them as well.  This training seeks... More

January 30, 2018

Dear Colleagues, We continue to get calls requesting information for schools, parents and students pertaining to the current influenza epidemic.  To supplement to what was shared in last week’s email , links to additional information from the CDC are included here: MDPH Information for Schools: CDC Information for Schools: CDC Information on How to Clean and Disinfect Schools to Help Slow the Spread of Flu: In case you missed it in the updates last week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has posted SBIRT guidance and advisory for schools in the Commissioner’s Updates.  Beginning in the current school year, districts are expected to: Conduct screenings on an annual basis at two different grade levels (grades 7 and 9 are recommended), ... More

January 23, 2018

Dear Colleagues, I am pleased to announce that the MA DPH Bureau of Community Health and Prevention has posted two career opportunities for school nurse applicants who may be interested: Public Health Nursing Advisor I, Nursing Advisor for the Medication Administration Program: External career site: Public Health Nursing Advisor I , Nursing Advisor for the Mandated Screening Program: External career site: First consideration will be given to those applicants that apply within the first 14 days!   We know that many of you are dealing with the very ill children due to the flu – and some of you have been stricken with the flu as well.  Flu activity is very widespread, so please continue to encourage parents to vaccinate their children, some of whom are at high... More

Position Posting

The following two positions, both within the MDPH School Health Unit, have been posted on MassCareers For additional information, click on the job links below:    Public Health Nursing Advisor I, Nursing Advisor for the Medication Administration Program, Bureau of Community Health and Prevention External career site:   Public Health Nursing Advisor I , Nursing Advisor for the Mandated Screening Program, Bureau of Community Health and Prevention External career site: Please forward this email to anyone you may be interested in these positions! Thank you, Mary Ann Mary Ann Gapinski, MSN, RN, NCSN Director of School Health Services/ School SBIRT Coordinator MA Department of Public Health 250 Washington Street – 5th Floor Boston, MA  02108 Website: SBIRT information:  

January 19th Event

Register for Upcoming Webinar on Managing Donations and Volunteers Before, During, and After Emergencies On Friday, January 19, 2018, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) within the U.S. Department of Education and its REMS TA Center will host a Webinar on the topic of managing donations and volunteers before, during, and after emergency events that impact public and nonpublic school district, school, and campus communities. The Webinar will provide an overview of key concepts and considerations related to integrating donation and volunteer management into school and higher ed emergency operations plans. There will be a description of operational considerations for managing donations and volunteers from the federal and local perspectives and will share... More

January 16, 2018

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to heighten awareness of the importance of reducing and preventing exposure to lead and high levels of copper, particularly by pregnant women, infants, and young children. As part of this effort, MassDEP asked that we share the following message with you: Dear School Nurse:  Happy New Year! Funding for Massachusetts’ Lead in School Drinking Water Program is still available for the 2017-2018 school year ( Massachusetts Officials Launch Lead in School Drinking ... Press Release Massachusetts Officials Launch Lead in School Drinking Water Testing Program for 2017-2018 School Year The Lead in School Drinking Water Assistance Program is open to public schools and childcare facilities that did not previously participate in... More

MEMO-December 21, 2017

Click here for a recent update on the Domestic Violence/ Sexual Assault Course Requirement for relicensure

December 13, 2017

Dear Colleagues, It’s December….and one of the busiest times of the year.  Hope this finds you all well and able to find time to enjoy this most festive season of the year!  I am sure the anticipation of the holiday season is also felt (and heard) in your schools, but I want to thank you all for what you do for children who are not feeling this excitement for multiple known and unknown reasons.  You meet their needs in so many ways all year long, but I know you will be working extra hard in the coming weeks to ensure that all children in your care will feel special during this holiday season. We are trying to keep you updated concerning the requirement... More

November 30, 2017

Dear Colleagues, We are pleased to announce that the online Medication Administration in a School Setting: School Nursing Practice in Massachusetts is now available on the SHIELD website at  (please see the course announcement attached to this email).  This online course replaces the formerly offered live workshop: Medication Administration and Delegation. Designed as an “on your time” training, learners may register and take this course at any time that is convenient for them. This course provides the key information every public and private School Nurse needs to know about medication administration and delegation in Massachusetts schools, including laws and regulations, school nurse role and responsibilities, and best practice approaches. This is one of three training workshops mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in order... More

November 17, 2017

Dear Colleagues, We have received many phone calls from school nurses concerning the mandate from the Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN) concerning the Mandatory Continuing Education Requirement: Training on domestic and sexual violence required for LPN, RN and APRN license renewal.    SHIELD is actively working on providing this training. The provider they are  working with just recently received her approval from BORN (the training must be a BORN approved program and they just approved specific trainings last week)  so we don’t yet have dates for a program, but should have plans in place very soon. Our understanding is that the course will be a half-day live program.  We know many nurses will be seeking to renew their licenses in January, More

November 6, 2017

Dear Colleagues, It has been wonderful to see so many school districts represented at our Regional Meetings in the Haverhill, Springfield and Bridgewater over the past week!  We look forward to seeing others at the Regional Meetings in Marlboro and Dedham this week and next, respectively.  And we hope to see many of you tomorrow at the  Racial Equity in School Health: A Groundwater Approach Conference  at Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd in Sturbridge.  A reminder that there will be two additional conferences offered (space is limited) on March 27 and April 24. We are also excited to announce that Wanda Visnick, RN, will be working on a part-time basis to coordinate all SBIRT trainings, materials and resources!  A reminder that Introductory Sessions to this screening... More

ALERT: November 6, 2017

Dear School Nurse, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to heighten awareness of the importance of reducing and preventing exposure to lead and high levels of copper, particularly by pregnant women, infants, and young children. In support of this effort we wanted to let you know that the Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water for the 2017/2018 school year has started accepting applications from public schools and childcare facilities that did not previously participate in the Program. This program was launched in April 2016 by Governor Charlie Baker and State Treasurer Deb Goldberg to help Massachusetts public schools voluntarily test for lead and copper in drinking water. As... More

October 26, 2017

Dear Colleagues, I apologize for the delay in sending these current Updates. We know that your office has been as busy as our offices because we have been to a few!  But hopefully, help is on the way, because this week, SHIELD hosted over 115 nurses new to school nursing at our Foundations of School Nursing Practice.  We welcome them to school health services!   I want to remind you all that our Regional Meetings, hosted by our Regional Consultants, are going to be held over the next few weeks and I hope as many of your districts and schools are able to send at least one representative to these valuable meetings where local and regional resources are shared among other topics of... More

October 16, 2017

Dear Colleagues, On November 7th, Boston University School Health Institute for Education and Leadership Development (SHIELD), along with the MDPH,  is sponsoring a program to establish an understanding of how race-based structural inequities impact school health access and outcomes. This foundation will provide school nurses and ALL other school staff with a basic understanding of how racism is structural in nature and what that means for their work, their schools, and the communities they serve.  It is essential that as school health programs move forward in addressing social-emotional learning models, and how we, as leaders, can create safe and inclusive spaces within their offices and schools, learn to address all inequities in our systems of care.  We encourage all who share... More

October 2, 2017

Colleagues, It was wonderful to see so many school nurse leaders gathered together for our first statewide meeting of the 2017-2018 school year!  Thank you to all who presented – and thank you to those who took the time to attend (even those whose attendance was not mandatory!).  We look forward to seeing many more of you at our next meeting in December which will be held in collaboration with school psychologists.  Continuing education credits for both nurses and psychologists will be provided for participation at this meeting.  Please mark your calendars….and share this information with your school psychologist – for December 7th at the Holiday Inn in Marlboro!  More details will be forthcoming.   257 school districts mandated to perform the SBIRT screening... More

September 21, 2017

Dear Colleagues, There are lots of updates to read through this week so I hope you’re able to spare a few minutes of your busy day to see all of the opportunities available!  A reminder that NASN2018, NASN's 50th Annual Conference this coming June will be NASN’s celebration of 50 years of advancing school nursing practice!  As you may know, NASN is now accepting abstract submissions and NASN2018 can benefit from your knowledge. The conference will be held June 30-July 3, 2018 (preconference June 29, 2018) at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland.   If you haven't already submitted an abstract, please learn more or submit an abstract today.  We encourage school nurses from Massachusetts to share your knowledge and expertise in school... More

September 11, 2017

Dear Colleagues, Last week MDPH launched our latest public information campaign, Stop Addiction Before It Starts, to encourage parents to talk early and often with their children about the dangers of misusing prescription pain medications.  We want parents to know just how strong their influence is when it comes to helping their kids understand the dangers of prescription medication misuse. Please see provide parents with the information they need and encourage them to read the helpful tips here. A reminder of the Introduction to School Nursing Leadership program that is being offered this week through BU SHIELD for ALL nurses new to school nursing leadership in their schools or districts.  This is a forum for networking, consultation and to provide a few helpful... More

August 28, 2017

Dear Colleagues, Welcome to a new school year!  We hope that you’ve had some time to retreat, relax, reflect and renew over the summer!  The coming school year is sure to be an exciting one in School Health with lots of changes on the horizon!   This email will be the first to update you on some new information related to vision screening, emergency anaphylaxis plans and other news for all school health staff!  Please stay tuned to this essential updates and those that follow in order to remain current with your practice.  Please be sure to check out the BU SHIELD website for the many new additions – especially the resource page - and a new PPT to use for training... More

SBIRT Update – 8/28/17

Dear School SBIRT Team members, Please see the email below for important updates to the School SBIRT process related to referral and data collection!  In addition, please see the attached notice concerning the temporary position for a School SBIRT Coordinator! Thank you for your efforts to provide substance use prevention and education for our students!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns, Mary Ann Gapinski, MSN, RN, NCSN School Health Director/ School SBIRT Coordinator NEW STREAMLINED YOUTH TREATMENT REFERRAL PROCESS The MDPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS) announces a new streamlined process to access the developmentally appropriate residential level of care for adolescents and young adults, in order to better meet the needs of young people experiencing problems as a result... More

June 19, 2017

Dear Colleagues: Summer school and summer vacations are both upon us!  Whether or not you will be working in School Health Services over the summer, we will be in our offices to assist you with consultation and technical assistance as you may need.  We hope you will take this slower time of the year to take advantage of the many professional development opportunities available to you over the summer, especially the program being offered by BU SHIELD (and sponsored by MDPH) in collaboration with the BCH Community Education Initiative.  This program will focus on health assessment by school nurses with attention to “red flags” that need attention, and followed by a day spent on emergency preparedness for school nurses. And before you... More

June 12, 2017

Dear Colleagues, Although school is almost over for many of our students, there are still numerous learning opportunities for school health professionals!  This School Health Update has many upcoming (some this week!) programs available for professional development.  Please be sure to see all those mentioned in this email as well as the ones that are attached.  And please remember that SHIELD is holding a three day Summer School Health Institute. It will be jointly provided with Children’s Hospital Boston and will take place August 15th – 17th at the Holiday Inn Boston – Dedham Hotel and Conference Center.  The first two days will focus on Health Assessment Skills and the last day will be a workshop on Emergency Preparedness for School... More

June 5, 2017

Dear Colleagues, This is such a hectic time of the year!  With field days and field trips and other activities planned for the school day that often disrupt our daily health office routines, medication errors seem to occur more frequently when these disruptions occur.  Most reports of medication errors are of a benign nature (thank goodness!) but the feelings of remorse and anxiety are often difficult for nurses who make these errors.  Our studies indicate that most of these medication errors often demonstrate that they are “systems errors” due to the interruptions that occur while the school nurse is administering medications – especially when multiple students are in the office or other duties are expected of the nurse during these time. ... More

May 25, 2017

Dear Colleagues, Much appreciation and many congratulations to our presenters – both oral and poster presentations – that were featured last Thursday at our Promising Practices Day of Celebration!  Wow!  What a wonderful display of professionalism, knowledge of and conviction to the health and wellness of our students!  Each region had an outstanding display of the work being done by School Nurses every day to improve their practice and demonstrate leadership in their schools!  Thank you, thank you, thank you! Please see the attached recent edition of the SBIRT Newsletter.  Just a reminder that SBIRT in Schools Trainings are continuing into June and are already being scheduled for some August dates.  Please be sure to check the BU SHIELD website at More

May 3, 2017

Dear Colleagues, May is such a lovely month!  I hope that you all have plans to celebrate Nurse’s Week this month…time to reflect on all you do for others and be proud of the care and concern you provide! Please note that all requested applications for registration for Medication Administration programs have been mailed.  There are two new types of application: one for residential  (boarding) schools and one for both public and private day schools which includes registration for the school day along with before/ after school programs, extracurricular events and off-campus trips, including field trips (both day and overnight).   An additional (brief) application is required for the district to be registered to provide training to unlicensed personnel in the administration of... More

April 26, 2017: 13 Reasons Why – Discussion

Dear Colleagues, Although there was an MDPH School Health Email  sent earlier this week, I felt it was essential to provide you with the resources and materials that I have received concerning the recent series on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why, which is getting a great deal of attention from our students. There continues to be a great deal  of appropriate concern around the message and potential impact of 13 Reasons Why, which is a book and now a series on Netflix. This is an opportunity to have conversations with our students and the school staff and parents who support them to provide context and understanding around safe messaging, and to revisit your school’s programs related to suicide prevention programs. Below are some... More