Rounds With Leadership: Moving Towards Reopening Schools of Nursing

Published August 26, 2020

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

August 26, 2020 - Moving Towards Reopening Schools of Nursing

Whether your school is planning to invite students back for in-person classes in the fall or at some point next year, academic nursing leaders are challenged to determine how best to maintain program quality while protecting students and faculty from contracting and spreading COVID-19. To help ease this transition, AACN has worked with internationally noted expert Dr. Tener Goodwin Veenema from Johns Hopkins University to develop a new resource to help guide decision-making at your school of nursing.

Titled Considerations for Reopening U.S. Schools of Nursing During COVID-19, this guide provides recommendations related to assessing risk, the protections needed to safely resume campus activities, the continuity of education and research, clinical education and patient interactions, strengthening curriculum, and protecting the campus community. Building on evidence-based guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, this new document offers practical advice on maintaining nursing education programs, while taking steps to answer key questions, including:

  • What do administrators do when your campus has a confirmed case of COVID-19?
  • What specific alert levels should be identified to better inform expectations of students, faculty, and staff?
  • What steps should individuals take to enhance their personal safety, including mask-wearing and COVID-19 testing?
  • Are expectations changing with respect to providing PPE for students in clinicals?
  • Are my plans sufficient to ensure that nursing programs will continue if our campus is required to shut down?
  • How should I adapt my policies related to absenteeism (students, faculty, staff)?
  • What can be done to enhance my school’s approach to clinical placements, including contingency plans if threat levels rise?
  • Can nursing students serve as workforce extenders for surge capacity as the outbreak continues?
  • What emotional and mental health services are available to keep my campus community resilient and thriving?

On August 18, Dr. Veenema and her colleague Dr. Crystal Watson from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security conducted a webinar on the new set of Considerations, which was focused on the risks that colleges and universities face when re-starting in-person classes during the pandemic, as well as the planning and mitigation measures that can help reduce risk. Topics covered include testing, isolation, quarantine, contact tracing, and indicators to inform decisions about increasing or reducing in-person activities. To access this webinar on demand, click here.

AACN is committed to ensuring that our members have access to information and services that will enhance your school’s operations and ease the work needed to reopen programs. Several of AACN’s partners are offering assistance, including the following:

  • Scrubin Uniforms has joined with AACN to make it easier for schools of nursing to acquire the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed for students engaged in clinical coursework. Through this initiative, Scrubin Uniforms has negotiated access to a supply of PPE that can be customized to fit the specific needs of each program and practice site. To find out more about the AACN member discount on PPE, including face shields, masks, and gowns, contact Matt Panegasser at mattp@scrubin.com.
  • On September 1 from 2:00-3:00 pm (ET), AACN and our partner CastleBranch, Inc. will be hosting a free webinar titled Keeping Nursing Students Safe in Clinicals, which will feature guidance on how best to reintroduce students to acute care settings and other learning environments. To assist schools, CastleBranch has developed a COVID-19 Compliance solution to enable program administrators to screen students for common symptoms and exposure, all while complying with CDC guidelines. This new service will be profiled.  Click here to register.

For more details on other opportunities available to AACN members to assist with your programs during the pandemic, see AACN’s Coronavirus Resources for Nurse Educators.

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