Palo Alto High School will be welcoming a familiar face with the arrival of a new school nurse.
Jennifer Kleckner, who was previously the health technician at Jordan Middle School, arrived at Paly on Feb. 10.
“Jennifer’s an experienced school nurse,” Assistant Principal Victoria Kim said. “She knows a lot of the students already, she’s a former Paly parent so she knows the Paly campus, and she’s just a very caring and compassionate individual so I think that goes a long way in providing that safety and security for kids.”
However, because her relocation placed Jordan out of a school nurse, Kleckner decided to work part-time at both Paly and Jordan, Kim said. Jordan has since then hired a new full-time health technician. However, as of March 3, Kleckner has returned to the middle school to train the new nurse, therefore momentarily leaving Paly without a nurse.
During Kleckner’s leave, Receptionist Vallen Queen has been filling the role of school nurse in addition to performing her regular job, Kim said.
“The hardest person that this had been on, not having a nurse, was Vallen Queen,” Kim said. “She’s had to be receptionist slash nurse for a long time now, so she deserves a whole lot of recognition for doing double duty and still being expected to keep up with the tasks that she has to do on a daily basis. … That’s a tough thing to do when you have the responsibility of being the receptionist. … If she’s having to tend to scraped knees and health concerns, then that makes it really tough. It’s definitely been a big struggle for her and she deserves big praise for stepping up … but she’s been really great at it. … It will definitely be more comfortable to have a full time nurse.”
Although Queen agrees that performing two jobs at once is a difficult task, she said that the largest strain from the lack of a school nurse is its impact on students.
“The thing that makes me most unhappy is that it’s not very comfortable in here [in the office],” Queen said. “Kids come in and they’re sick and they want to lie down or be comforted and it’s noisy, phones are ringing, and people are going in and out and I just feel bad that they need to sit in here.”
According to Queen, prior to Kleckner’s hiring, Paly had not had a school nurse since December.
However, no serious issues had arisen as a result of the vacant job position. Although a medical emergency did occur on March 3, the lack of a nurse did not negatively impact the situation, according to Kim.
“[The] incident probably would have happened even if the nurse was here,” Kim said. “Whichever administrator’s on site first, they kind of make the judgment call of whether we should wait or not. So if the nurse was here at that time I think the call still would have been made, whether she made the decision or an administrator arrived first and then made that call. … There was an incident in a classroom that needed immediate medical attention. Proper procedures were followed, paramedics were called, parents came and I believe the student is okay.”
Both Kim and Queen hope that Kleckner will return from Jordan sometime next week.
“I’ll be happy when there’s a nurse, full-time,” Queen said.