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FWISD school nurses recently completed over 22 hours of training. Here’s what that means to students

More than 120 school nurses from districts across Fort Worth met inside a multipurpose room at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex on March 25, 2024. The Fort Worth Fire Department hosted the training.
Matthew Sgroi
Fort Worth Report
More than 120 school nurses from districts across Fort Worth met inside a multipurpose room at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex on March 25, 2024. The Fort Worth Fire Department hosted the training.

When a schoolwide emergency such as a fire or shooting breaks out on a school campus, who is the first to respond?

Police, fire and emergency service crews are the usual answer and likely will arrive at the scene within minutes.

But the first adult to assess the well-being of the many children on a campus will, in many cases, be a school nurse. That point was emphasized to more than 120 Tarrant County school nurses during a recent training at Fort Worth’s Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex.

The training was the culmination of a 22-session course hosted by Medical City Healthcare. This one taught emergency preparedness; others in the past focused on mental health or nutrition education.

The series is key to arming nurses with knowledge and skills to tackle prevalent health issues among students, according to Medical City Healthcare.

Since the program’s inception in August 2023, over 1,200 nurses across 33 North Texas districts have benefited, the health care organization said.

In Fort Worth ISD, comprehensive training courses like these reflect a broader commitment to improving the expertise of school nurses, Shannon Cooper, director of health services for the school district, said.

Nurses aren’t only fulfilling their own education requirements but are actively engaging in professional development directly applicable to their responsibilities on campus, she said.

“We’re always trying to find options for them to keep up their license, but also options for them to grow,” Cooper said.

In discussions about tough, multi-faceted issues like school safety, these conversations could save lives, she said.

Another aspect of the training is its focus on mental health, she said.

Cooper highlighted how nurses are now better equipped to identify underlying issues behind common complaints, like stomach aches, which can often be manifestations of stress or anxiety.

Course curriculum was developed by medical and social health experts like United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, EVERFI, Stop the Bleed and the American Heart Association.

Practical implications are vast, Christina Morales, a school nurse at Fort Worth ISD’s Wedgwood Middle School, said.

Morales emphasized the importance of staying abreast of changes, especially in a landscape that now includes preparing for active shooter scenarios.

“Just knowing what I can do, what I can’t do and what tools I’m equipped with, it’s so incredibly valuable,” Morales said.

Practical information, like using a school band’s megaphone to garner hundreds of students’ attention during an emergency, could mean the difference between life and death, she said.

The training’s importance extends beyond the immediate benefits to nurses and their professional development, Morales said.

Parents should feel confident about their children’s health and safety at school. When parents are made aware of them, training experiences fortify that confidence, she said.

“Having this kind of training definitely builds your mind, and builds your experience,” Morales said. “Whenever we go into a school, we are the only medical professionals on campus. Sometimes, that can be a little bit overwhelming.”

Matthew Sgroi is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or @MatthewSgroi1 on X. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.