St. Catherine’s School nurses, Elizabeth Blanton ‘97 and Stacia Schoeffler, spent countless hours this past spring and over the summer to prepare for more than 1,200 students, faculty and staff to return to campus. They attended conferences virtually with experts from around the region and the world. But their focus isn’t just on COVID-19, they are both maintaining their normal routine at school.
Learn more about our incredible School Nurses:
Lower School Nurse Elizabeth Blanton, SN, RN, NCSN Elizabeth Blanton is very familiar with St. Catherine’s. She started her St. Catherine’s journey in kindergarten, graduating in 1997. Prior to returning as a school nurse a decade ago, Blanton worked at VCU in Acute Care Pediatrics.
Why nursing? Nursing is a great way to give back to the community. The profession gives you a sense of purpose. Intellectually it also keeps me interested. I've always loved pediatrics and community health nursing, so school nursing is a great combination of those fields. Biggest reward as a school nurse? Helping kids! I love being around children, and knowing that you have helped a child feel better and made her day a little brighter is a huge reward. What is the best part of your day at St. Catherine’s? Spending time with the children. The students are so happy to be back on campus, and it has made all of the hard work and continued efforts we are making worth it. What do you do when you aren't on campus? I spend time with my family. Most of my time is spent going to my kids' sporting events — mainly baseball right now. I have two boys ages 8 and 11. What did you do to prepare for this school year that was different in years past? Long hours attending webinars from various professional organizations around the world, reading research on COVID, meeting with nurses and doctors, planning for safe practices, developing guidelines to reopen the school. What surprised you in preparing for this school year? The amount of work it took, and how quickly the information changed. We would have a plan in place and then would have to redo everything to accommodate new research or recommendations. What is one thing you want the Saints community to know right now? Be patient with yourself and others. Life is very stressful right now, and unfortunately, we don't know when this COVID crisis will resolve. It's important that you take care of your physical and mental health. If we are patient with ourselves and reduce stress, our immune systems will be more robust. Remember that we are not living in normal times, so don't expect your daily life to be normal. Adapt to the changes that are expected of us, and respect your health and the health of your community.
Upper School/Middle School Nurse Stacia Schoeffler After staying at home with her two daughters (both St. Catherine’s alumna), Stacia Schoeffler returned to the workforce first subbing as School Nurse before moving into the full-time position. She previously worked at MCV on the GYN/GYN Oncology floor.
Why nursing? I wanted to be a veterinarian but I'm allergic to cats so I switched to caring for people instead of animals. What is your biggest challenge as a school nurse? Preparing the students and teachers/chaperones for international travel for X-term (lots of paperwork and chaperone meetings required) and of course, this pandemic. What is the best part of your day at St. Catherine’s? the people I work with and seeing the girls every day, especially when it's their birthday! I love hearing how they will celebrate their special day. What are your hobbies? Cooking and baking (I helped create a cooking group with my friends called "Food Therapy." We would get together monthly, choose a theme and everyone had to prepare a dish with a new ingredient or technique. I made soup in an actual large pumpkin one time. (Had to buy three pumpkins before I got the right size that would fit in my oven!) and making home-made greeting cards (Valentines are my favorite). What did you do to prepare for this school year that was different in years past? Listened to lots and lots of webinars/Zoom calls about COVID-19 including listening to some from the Medical Society of VA with my husband who's an OBGYN (yes, we met at MCV/VCU), took an interesting Contact Tracing course and attended the National Association of School Nurses conference virtually this year. What is one thing you want the Saints community to know right now? Might be experiencing pandemic weariness but don't give up! Virginia's positivity numbers are low right now and that's because of what we're doing. My Fab 5: barriers (masks), washing hands, cleaning, backing up (social distancing) and staying home when sick.