As a school nurse at Babler Elementary, Suzanne Buchholz's number one priority is to ensure that the students and staff she supports are safe and healthy.
While that mission remains constant for the 14-year veteran of Rockwood School District, her day-to-day routine has changed tremendously during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My office used to have a large waiting room area with four to six chairs, and now it's three chairs spaced greater than six feet apart," Buchholz shared. "My separate isolation room has two beanbag chairs and two yoga mats: very spacious for those with multiple COVID-19-like symptoms waiting for parent pick-up."
The biggest change to Buchholz's daily routine is adding contact tracing, but she tackles it with grace and flexibility.
"It takes up an incredible amount of time to call parents, followed by emails and repeat follow-ups on how things are going at home when a student is in quarantine or in isolation," she said. "I try my best to communicate via emails and reminders through our newsletter, Bulldog Bytes, to parents when to keep students home this year. If we can keep illness out of our schools, it's a good start for the rest of us to stay healthy, safe and more importantly stay open."
In addition to her regular duties as a school nurse, Buchholz has helped with school supply deliveries to students and families.
"I take care of them like they're one of my own," she said. "Kids will answer the door often with huge smiles to see the Babler nurse. Many of the Babler staff have done the same thing this year dropping off supplies for our students. Going the extra mile through acts of kindness lifts us all up."
Principal Dr. Andrea Lockwood has taken notice of Buchholz's dedication and hard work.
"Mrs. Buchholz is always available to help families navigate through the complications of COVID-19," Lockwood said. "She is always there to help with questions and concerns, and she always is in contact with families and staff to ensure they are getting what they need. Despite the challenges that this year presents, she remains positive, personable, flexible and eager to serve our Babler community. We are truly fortunate to have her here at Babler."
Buchholz said she is grateful for the support and help from her nurse colleagues, administration, teachers, staff, parents, PTO, community members and friends.
"I'm very proud to be part of the Rockwood School District Wellness and Health Department that is committed to working together with great flexibility in the most challenging of times," she said. "We will get through this together. I assure you these times will pass, and we will all have a story to share in our future about it."