Shortly after the executive order to close schools, the public school nurse members of the Newark Teachers Association transitioned to virtual school nurses and health educators. They called families to assess their needs and educate them regarding COVID-19 and how it may affect students’ other medical issues. They distributed medications that were stored for school use to parents who had a limited supply for home use, and they provided the emotional support needed in a sudden health crisis.
From their phone calls they found that many families were not able to access the food provided at the distribution sites in the city. Families discussed fear, sick relatives, financial hardship, lack of transportation—or the challenges of taking multiple buses with children in tow and risking exposure to get resources.
NTA members realized families were experiencing nutritional deficits and rolled out their COVID-19 Nutrition and Basic Necessities Initiative on April 24. They partnered with The Bethel Assembly of God Organization and delivered food baskets to the doorsteps of 60 families in dire need. NTA members called the families after delivery of their food boxes. Families were thankful and confirmed that the food filled a nutritional need amplified by COVID-19.
NTA continued its outreach by assembling hygiene kits in pretty purple NJEA PRIDE/FAST bags, created a COVID-19 School Nurse Tips card that families could post on their refrigerators for a quick reference with resources and education on how to stay healthy at home.
On May 1, NTA partnered with Little Caesars pizza on South Orange Avenue on the border of Newark and East Orange and delivered a “Pizza Night” to feed, lift the spirits of the two communities and let them know they care. NTA delivered to 150 of the community’s neediest residents hygiene kits with rationed items, 300 pizzas and a sweet treat for a “fun night in.” NTA attached its School Nurse Tips card and labels with NTA—PRIDE/FAST to every pizza box.