Pine Island school nurse recognized by Time Magazine for work during pandemic

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(ABC 6 News) – Time Magazine recently shared the stories of 29 teachers, bus drivers and a variety of others who went "above and beyond" during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Pine Island School Nurse was one of the individuals recognized in the article.

Time Magazine shared the story of school nurse Kimberly Pokrandt.

In a statement sent via email, Kimberly tells ABC 6 News:

"I am thankful for the opportunity to represent school nurses not only here in MN, but across the nation. It is extremely humbling that our wonderful small town was able to represent this and I would have never dreamed of being chosen. School nursing has significantly changed over the year. I am so thankful that I have the background and the experience to tackle COVID in a school setting. I could not do this job without my partner- Krista Despins!…COVID has also strengthened our collaboration with our public health cohorts as well. We are fortunate enough to work with Goodhue, Olmsted, and Dodge county public health teams…Public health definitely does not get the kudos they deserve. They are our backbone. School nurses are licensed public health nurses who happen to work with the public (staff, students, families) in the school setting.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to work with an amazing leadership team and staff at Pine Island Public Schools. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a strong team that includes teachers, paraprofessionals, food services, janitor staff, and transportation departments to keep a school running. School nurses are just a small part of that puzzle that keeps our kids in school and schools open. …Healthy students are the best learners! I also would like to add that kindness and understand also goes a long way. Our job, as school nurses, is to care for all students and staff. We don’t discriminate based upon vaccinated or unvaccinated status…

This school year, I appreciate all the hard work that our school board and administration have done to get our school year off and running. We are fortunate enough to be following masking for all in our buildings best practice recommendations put out by the CDC, MDH, and Olmsted County Public health. That allows us the keep kids in person in school and we know they will have an opportunity to learn how they learn best which is in school."

The portion published in Time Magazine can be viewed below.

To read more click here.

"Kimberly Pokrandt used to be a neonatal nurse in an intensive-­care unit, but she says contact tracing in her school district and advising students when to quarantine was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.”

It meant asking students for specific details about their lives: whom they’d sat next to in class, or who was in their car?pool. During football season, it meant telling players they had to miss a game and hearing from angry parents, “telling me I ruined their child’s life.”

Contact tracing was one of many responsibilities that Pokrandt, a nurse for Pine Island public schools, took on to keep kids in school. She held COVID-19 vaccine clinics for children ages 12 and up, and for adults who wanted to be vaccinated by someone they trust. “If I’m modeling what we need to do to get out of this situation, I think they’re more likely to do it,” says Pokrandt,?42. “School nurses really had to be leaders throughout this pandemic. Nurses in the hospital are not doing the contact tracing or quarantining kids from school and managing that health care. The school nurses are.”