ESSER funds provide nurses for each school in Vicksburg Warren School District

Published 8:00 am Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Vicksburg Warren School District is getting a nurse in each school within the district this school year using ESSER funds, an American Rescue Plan stimulus package for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief.

The relief plan covers a large portion of the school district’s budget for the 2021-2022 school year, totaling $40,284,969 of ESSER funds. The money is going to fully fund 22 out of 27.5 new staff positions within the district for a total of three years. The goal of ESSER funds is to help schools reopen quickly and safely, as well as address the learning losses students have experienced due to the pandemic.

Dru Holdiness, a district nurse for 23 years, called getting additional nurses “a game-changer.” The district previously had six nurses and each would cover multiple schools throughout the week. The district has now hired 10 additional nurses so each nurse can be placed in one of the 16 schools within the district permanently.

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“A nurse will now have the opportunity to know the students in their school better and build a trusting relationship with them,” Holdiness said. “Every child will know that there is someone they can turn to if they need help or have questions about their health.”

In addition to the nurses that were hired, 12 other positions were created with the funds. Instructional coaches filled nine of those positions. These coaches work with teachers and school leaders to bring evidence-based practices into classrooms. Bowmar Elementary and the Academy of Innovation will also each receive an interventionist, which supports certified staff for students and teachers in the general education setting.

“An interventionist addresses the specific needs of a particular child when regular classroom instruction is not sufficient,” VWSD Director of Communications Christi Kilroy said. “Interventionists work with the teacher to design methods of learning that are most appropriate for each child.”

Kilroy said all of these positions go to sustaining the operation of schools and addressing the impact the pandemic has had on students in the Vicksburg Warren School District.

“Kids who are healthy learn better, and having a nurse at each school will go a long way to support every student,” Holdiness said. “Our nurses are looking forward to helping children and to taking a proactive approach on health in each building.”