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OH HB 6 Aims to Make School Health Services Less Safe for Ohio's 1.8 Million School Children

By Joan Hlinomaz, MS, BSN, RN, NCSN posted 03-15-2021 13:48

The health and safety of 1.8 million Ohio school children will be directly impacted by the legislative attacks against Ohio School Nurses in OH HB 6 (134th General Assembly of the Ohio Legislature), that was recently passed in the OH House and is currently in the OH Senate - Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

OASN is the professional association for School Nurses and other health professionals with a specific interest in school nursing and school health services. There are currently over 2000 Licensed School Nurses serving Ohio’s children, working in large and small school districts, in public, charter, and private schools, and in rural and urban districts, providing services to a single school or multiple schools within a district.

Ohio House Bill 442, passed in December of 2020, and Ohio House Bill 6’s amended section 3319.221 puts Ohio’s school children and larger school communities at risk by removing the additional educational requirements previously required by the School Nurse license. Previously, a licensed registered nurse with a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing (or related health services field) could complete additional coursework in school nursing to earn this protected title. Now, an individual who is a licensed registered nurse and has a bachelor's degree in any area will be able to purchase a registration to act as a School Nurse.

A registered nurse is prepared for a generalist nurse role. A licensed School Nurse is a health leader specifically prepared to function autonomously and use evidence-based research to apply clinical reasoning in the school setting to meet the complex physical and socioemotional health needs of Ohio’s children. Additionally, School Nurse licensure aligns with Ohio’s recently implemented Whole Child Framework, critically touching each of the Framework’s components of school and health support systems.

Above and beyond the preparation of a registered nurse, the Licensed School Nurse is educationally prepared through a program of rigorous coursework and a school-based practicum to:
  • Contribute to the multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) process
  • Practicing autonomously in a non-healthcare setting (often as the only medical professional students may see)
  • Manage and promote the complex health needs of students to enhance academic success and improve school attendance
  • Address and reduce health disparities and racial inequities in schools and communities, and work to increase health access, equity, and opportunities for all students through comprehensive school health services and interdisciplinary care coordination
  • Serve as a vital resource for school wellness, initiatives, and emergency preparedness
  • Recognize epidemiological patterns of symptoms and implications and develop a plan of intervention for the larger school community
  • Collaborate with students, families, and school personnel to support not only to physical health but socioemotional and mental health and well-being
  • Positively influence attendance rates which in turn influence achievement and graduation rates.

The role of the School Nurse, including specialized knowledge and expertise, is crucial to the health and safety of Ohio students. This additional education for School Nurse licensure is essential in the school setting. Ohio’s school children deserve the best nursing care available. Healthier students are better learners, and Ohio’s 1.8 million students deserve a Licensed School Nurse who can help them achieve their fullest health potential and subsequently achieve their full academic potential, as well.

There has been much work done by members of the OASN Board and Advocacy Committee to repeal the changes made to School Nurse licensure with the passing of HB 442 in December. There are upcoming meetings currently scheduled with legislators and other organizations. Please follow what is happening with HB 6 through You can register and get daily legislative updates.  You are encouraged to write to or call your local Senators and Representatives to give voice to School Nurses and school children across Ohio. Feel free to use this template statement, but be sure to copy it and add your own personal testimony to it.

OASN advocacy template letter
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