CCSD focuses on pathogen training

The Churchill County School District held mandatory substitute teacher training at the Old High School to update substitute teachers on health situations and discuss the lack of substitutes in the district.

The meetings, which were held on Feb. 18 and 24, required substitutes to attend training to meet requirements set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

CCSD School Nurse Stefanie Utz presented the substitute teachers with a training video on bloodborne pathogens. According to OSHA, bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Utz said bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted through contamination by blood and other body fluids. She urged substitutes to take extreme caution when handling a student who is bleeding, whether it’s caused from a cut or nose bleed.

“The proper personal protective equipment can protect our teachers and substitutes from contracting bloodborne pathogens,” Utz said. “The school provides gloves, masks, eye protection and information on how to handle and clean up accidents. Although we provide all of the necessities, usually the custodians will clean up accidents. We do suggest teachers and substitutes to carry gloves with them in case something happens and they’re not in an area with personal protective equipment.”

The district makes sure every precaution is taken to prevent the spread of infection at the schools, Utz said. According to the CCSD policy and regulation guide, suspected exposures to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) must be reported to the school nurse and site supervisor. Using current OSHA exposure control guidelines, the school nurse will provide immediate first aid and assist the employee with completing the appropriate documentation and paperwork.

It is recommended that an employee who has experienced exposure receive physician follow-up within 24 hours. The cost of physician evaluation and subsequent testing and follow-up will be covered by CCSD.

Utz discussed the handling of students who have severe allergies that can be life threatening as well. She said there are several students who have severe allergies who require an EpiPen in case they have an allergic reaction.

“Our two main concerns that we have within the district are allergies and asthma,” Utz said. “Our teachers and substitutes are provided with a list of students in their class who have health issues. It lists what the issue is and how they can avoid it and treat it.”

Utz said parents of students are also notified when a student has an allergy.

“We do this so the parents of the students who don’t have the allergy can make a cautious decision when packing a lunch for their child,” Utz said. “So if a student has a peanut allergy, other students aren’t bringing peanuts into the classroom.”

CCSD Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon said she was pleased with the turnout for the training.

“We’d like to have two trainings a year, one at the beginning and one in the middle of the year,” Sheldon said. “There are a variety of trainings available throughout the year and substitutes are welcome to join them if there is space available. Those trainings count towards credits that they need to keep their licenses valid.”

Sheldon said nearly all of the substitute teachers attended the meeting. She said for the ones who communicated with the district, they will be able to make up the training. The ones who didn’t, however, will receive a notice in the mail stating they are removed from the substitute teacher’s list until they contact the district.

Sheldon said she received good feedback from the surveys distributed to the substitutes. The surveys allowed the district some insight as to why the district is lacking in substitutes, she said.

“We basically found out what we initially though in the beginning,” Sheldon said. “Substitutes confirmed that they had particular grades, schools, classes, days and times that they are available for to sub. We confirmed that it’s really just a preference for them. We did get a couple of comments about upping the pay to $100 a day, again but the majority of it was preference.”

Sheldon said the district will continue advertising for substitute teachers and working with the ones they have.


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