School Health Services of the Altoona Area School District provides for the health needs of the school child in accordance with the School Laws of Pennsylvania. Included among these services are: health screenings, physical examinations, health appraisals, first aid and emergency care in case of injury and sudden illness, referral of detected health problems, education for wellness promotion, and disease prevention and control.
School health services are implemented under the state health department guidelines. These services supplement, but are not a substitute for the health care which parents provide for their children. School nurses who are responsible to the Superintendent and building principals provide health services.
School nurses are defined as professional employees by law and as such have all rights and privileges and responsibilities of the teaching staff. They are appointed by the Board of School Directors upon the recommendation of the Superintendent, and meet the educational qualifications for certification as prescribed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
School nurses are also guided by the Professional Nursing Law, which establishes standards of nursing care. The practice of professional nursing is described as: "diagnosing and treating human responses to actual or potential health problems through such services as case findings, health teaching, health counseling, provision of care supportive to or restorative of life and well-being, and executing medical regimens as prescribed by a licensed physician or dentist. The term does not include acts of medical diagnosis or prescription of medical therapeutic or corrective measures, except as may be authorized by rules and regulations jointly promulgated by the State Board of Medicine and the Board, which rules and regulations will be implemented by the Board." "The registered nurse assesses human responses and plans, implements and evaluates nursing care for individuals or families for whom the nurse is responsible." (Pennsylvania Code, Title 49, Professional & Vocational Standards)
School Nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the well being, academic success, and life-long achievement of students. To that end, school nurses facilitate positive student responses to normal development; promote health and safety, intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self-management, self-advocacy, and learning.
Optimal health and the ability to learn are inextricably linked. School nurses strengthen and facilitate the educational process by improving and protecting the health status of children and by identification and assistance in the removal or modification of health related barriers to the learning process for individual children. The major focus of school nursing services is the prevention of illness and disability, and the early detection and correction of health problems. The school nurse is uniquely qualified in health and education to strengthen and facilitate the educational process by improving the health status of children.