This information is based on a presentation given by a school nurse who services hundreds of students in the greater Philadelphia area, so keep that in mind, because different states require different things (liability and laws in particular). Here is a short summary of what a school nurse is there for, and when to let kids go see them, or not.
1) Direct care & First Aid– administrate medication, evaluate treatment of injuries, assess illness, and provide treatments (such as EpiPen which teachers may need training for)
2) Public Health Practitioner– monitor immunization status, liaison to Dep’t of Public Health, monitor health risks to school community (outbreaks, etc)
3) Case finder– assess students in select grades for: vision, growth, hearing, and scoliosis, and referrals made as needed (students may be taken out of class for testing)
4) Case manager– collaborate with families and Primary Care Providers, ensure continuity of care, coordinate services in the school setting to reduce absenteeism
5) Health consultant– resource to students, families, and staff, member of comprehensive student support team
A few points to remember: Nurses give teachers information only on a need-to-know basis, and it is done in confidentiality. Teachers should learn the difference between emergencies and non-emergencies as far as sending a student to the nurse goes (they only have certain hours they are available, except for in an emergency). Always ask about all students in classes to find out about food allergies, etcetera and, when in doubt, err on the side of safety. Teachers are required to report any “confessions” students tell them about abuse.