June 15, 2021

For school nurses, the health crisis broke the camel’s back with structural difficulties

A few days ago, a high school student came knocking on the door of Marie’s infirmary (the first name has been changed), a school nurse in the Eure region. She asked for a pregnancy test. By receiving it, Marie cursed herself. The young girl had come a fortnight earlier to ask for advice, and possibly emergency contraception, but found the door closed. At that time, Marie was mobilized to carry out self-tests.

Situations like these, school nurses believe they have experienced too much this year. Taken over by the management of the health crisis in their establishments, they have often been forced to abandon their core business, welcoming and listening to students. However, they have seen explode the discomfort of schoolchildren, college and high school students, tested by successive confinements and the alternation between face-to-face and distance learning. This situation highlighted the lack of structural resources and the difficult working conditions of the profession. In the street, Thursday, June 10, in Paris, school nurses will demand a massive recruitment of staff, an increase in salaries as well as specific training.

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“We have not stopped taking on additional tasks, without taking into account our primary mission, namely welcoming and listening to students”, denounces Saphia Guereschi, co-secretary general of Snics-FSU, the majority union among school nurses. At the heart of the school system, the 7,700 nurses of the national education system are responsible for detecting problematic situations, monitoring students, providing them with a welcome and listening, and directing them if necessary to others. devices, such as the social worker. “We are autonomous, alone in front of the student in sometimes serious situations, and we are not well paid”, continues Saphia Guereschi.

According to a report from the Court of Auditors in April 2020, there was a school nurse for 1,300 students in 2018. These professionals earn an average of 1,800 euros net per month, according to figures established by the Snics-FSU. School nurses were not affected by the salary increases for hospital nurses during the Ségur de la santé. The salary scale is not the same: “We have a career delay which can go up to eleven years”, emphasizes Saphia Guereschi.

New distresses

This year, however, school nurses were over-requested. “When there were explosions of cases, we searched every day who was a contact case, which students had met during sports, it was crazy”remembers Véronique (the first name has been changed), a school nurse in the Aix-Marseille academy. Then came the antigenic testing campaigns in high schools from February, then those of the self-tests.

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