• June 4, 2020

ECISD director of nursing resigns - Odessa American: Education

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ECISD director of nursing resigns

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Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2020 6:58 pm

Ector County ISD Director of Nursing Laura Mathew has resigned under protest due to requirements placed on her by the district in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. Mathew had served as director for 18 years.

Superintendent Scott Muri said in a phone interview that he could not comment on a personnel matter.

Her resignation letter was sent to Assistant Superintendent of Student and School Support Alicia Syverson, who apparently asked for Mathew’s resignation to be effective March 26. Mathew’s letter said she wanted to resign March 27.

Muri said what he could say was at this time in the life of the school system and community having all hands on deck is important.

“Having all of our employees performing their job functions is critical so that we can effectively serve the needs of our community,” Muri said. “It is important that we are all doing what we need to do to get through this crisis.”

Asked if he would want someone to put themselves or others at risk, Muri said: “In our current situation, we are following all of the CDC guidelines. … Those are clearly outlined on the CDC website and we’ve put all of those practices and procedures in place throughout our organization and the whole reason we’ve done that is to prevent any of us — whether any employees or any students or any family members from being at risk at all. But we do not want to be a part of the transmission of this virus within our own community. In fact, we want to be the opposite. We want to actually be a part of the solution.”

He said that’s why the district is taking the action steps they have.

“… That’s why we’re not in school today. That’s why most of our employees are working from home. That’s why we’re serving meals from the curb instead of in our buildings, so the actions that we are taking are to keep everybody safe — our students, our families, our employees. Everybody.”

“It is terrible to resign under these conditions with the Coronavirus Pandemic and feel a need to go on record as to the reason. As you know per our discussion, I consider it unwise for me to take temperatures every day at the Administration Building per your request. I also have offered to teach everyone at the Administration Building how to take an ear temp; it is simple and would mean that no one would have to be exposed to the virus. I asked you this because I am in a high risk category according to the CDC. I am 67 years old and I have Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). I would have no issue providing you with all my medical records to prove this. My CHF came on about 8 years ago as a result of chemotherapy treatment I had to take when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This is simply a fact; I cannot take a risk that I feel is totally unnecessary because you are asking,” Mathew’s letter said.

Mathew said the nurses in her department have asked her if they have to expose themselves and she has told them that if they set up a system to teach their cafeteria staff and others how to take their own temperature and log it every day, they did not have to expose themselves.

“So when you asked me to designate a nurse or a school health aide that could go to the Administration building every day in my place, I told you, and firmly believe, that no one should be asked to expose themselves on an everyday basis. I will never ask anyone I supervise to do something I would not do or that I felt was unsafe,” the letter said.

“I have tried to explain to you the medical reasons and I have asked you on what grounds you are asking that temps be taken every day at the Administration building. You have said it is a directive of the superintendent. The TEA issued some guidelines that focused around the possibility of contamination or spread of the virus from staff to the public since the staff was putting educational packets together and giving out food. You never mentioned that the people coming in to the administration building were in contact with the public. So I am at a loss for understanding the medical grounds for taking temps at the administration building. And I remain convinced that a good compromise would be to teach everyone to take their own temps. I can only think that you want me to leave and that you are using this opportunity for that purpose. We have had our differences but I did not think it would ever come to this,” the letter said.

“I don’t think you understand the science or medical reasoning pertaining to the spread of this virus. I am a registered nurse who has been practicing since 1974 and I have an advanced degree in Public Health. I am prepared to render a better decision on this. It is a pity that you will not take my skill and knowledge under consideration. There is no reason to ask people, either myself or others, to take unnecessary risk and face possible exposure to coronavirus. It is also a pity that I am resigning for this reason. Resigning for this reason is senseless and I am resigning under protest,” the letter said.

It ends with: “Goodbye Alicia.”

Muri said ECISD is starting a new protocol Monday in all the district buildings that includes taking everyone’s temperature.

“Most of our schools are doing that today. In fact, my first stop this morning was at one of our elementary schools and I witnessed the nurse taking the temperature of each of the employees as they were coming to work this morning. That’s a practice at our schools,” Muri said.

“Starting on Monday, we will be elevating that practice throughout our system to ensure that every employee that comes to work is checked to make sure that we are healthy because we serve the public and we want to make sure that if we have any interaction with the public, or any interaction with each other, we need to make sure that we are safe and healthy.”

This includes the Administration Building.

Odessa, TX

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