What parents need to know about Austin ISD student health services


This year marks the beginning of  the 22nd year of Dell Children‘s partnering with Austin ISD to provide student health services in area schools. There are some exciting changes to the model. What’s changing? Here’s what you need to know.

School nurses and student health assistants: a team approach to care

School nurses are not going away from this year’s health care services plan. One nurse is assigned to every school. Based on size and population of students with complex medical needs, some schools  will have a nurse dedicated to a single campus. Other schools will have a team comprised of a nurse and school health assistant who work together to care for students.  Nurses move among the campuses they are assigned to throughout the week, based on the students’ needs on each campus.

It’s important to know that since at least 1995 there have not been an AISD staffing plan with a nurse dedicated to every campus.

What’s new is that we’ve added more health assistants to increase how much time our health care teams spend in schools. This expands the health services in our schools beyond what we had in the past.

School principals appreciate the new health services model

Barton Hills Elementary Principal Kati Achtermann says having a school health assistant available has been a game changer for her school. “I have been at this campus for 18 years, and we have never had anyone here as close to full time as we do now, so this is a real gift,” says Achtermann.

“In the past, we’ve had to rely on my tiny office staff to stop what they were doing, switch gears, and provide medical care to students. It’s so lovely to be able to have someone who can administer medicine, answer parent calls, and provide a more focused level of care to students,” she says.

Special attention for special needs kids

We are committed to providing quality care to students, including those with special medical needs. Parents of children with food allergies, diabetes and other medical needs can rest assured that this new model is designed to meet their needs in the safest, most effective manner.

As in years past for students with specific medical needs, the health care team receives extra training and creates care plans catering to the child’s individual needs.

All nurses and health assistants are trained to administer medication, insulin, and EpiPens. In the event there’s a question about care, the health assistant can connect with the nurse in real time using the visual technology and get instant answers.

Always prepared for an emergency

Just as in previous years, all our school’s health action plans include emergency protocols which are approved by a doctor. Nurses and health assistants are supervised by a nurse manager and medical director who is a Dell Children’s physician.

Virtual care: A tool to improve care at school

Also this year, Austin ISD is joining a growing number of schools across the nation embracing virtual care. The goal is to provide the right care at the right place at the right time. Using secure audio and visual technology, a student health assistant connects within seconds via web cam and computer to a nurse remotely. This allows for the health assistant and the nurse to instantly collaborate on your child’s care at school.

The Good Health Digital Clinic — now in three schools

We are thrilled to announce an additional layer of care available to students at Crockett, McCallum and Eastside Memorial High Schools called the Good Health Digital Clinic. With this added technology, students, with parent/guardian consent, can be seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner from the convenience of the student health office on campus for minor illness or injuries. Providers are able to diagnose conditions and prescribe medications as needed.

Based on how the Good Health Digital Clinics do in the pilot schools and how the school administrators and health care workers, the program may be expanded in the future to serve other schools.

Learn more about student health services

If you have questions or concerns, call Tracy Spinner, AISD Assistant Director of Comprehensive Health Services at 512-414-9778 or you may visit the AISD website at www.austinisd.org/student-health

A long-standing subsidy for AISD

What’s not different is Seton’s continued contributions toward AISD’s student health services budget. In addition to the health care workers, supplies and services Seton provides AISD each year contributing to the student health services budget, Seton has continued to provide an in-kind subsidy of significant health care services including the Children’s Health Express, Ann Richards School Interns, school physicals, and more.

During FY13-FY16, Seton’s in-kind subsidy equalled $400,000 per year. In FY17 and FY18, the amount was $700,000 per year.

Comparing to last year by the numbers

  • Last year, the ratio of health care worker (registered nurses and health assistants) to student was 1 to 829 students. This year, it is 1 to 683 students. These figures are based on initial enrollment numbers.
  • Last year, there were 44 Health Assistants. This year, we are planning to have 80.
  • Last year, there were 55 nurses. This year, we are planning to have 41 nurses. This change is due to the normal flow of jobs in and out of AISD.
  • Last year, there were 42 schools that did not have “bell to bell” health care worker coverage. This year, there will be about 15 schools (all with enrollments of 300 students or less) that will not have “bell to bell” coverage.