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Snapshot of a Saint Featuring Eileen Smilari

StM School Nurse
StM School Nurse
One of St. Martin’s greatest strengths is its strong community, a diverse group of individuals with many gifts and talents who celebrate their shared values and commitment to our students and school.

St. Martin’s is filled with experts in their craft. We are so fortunate to have a highly trained school nurse who cares about our students and faculty, just as much as she cares about our school. Eileen Smilari is entering her 14th year at St. Martin’s and her 38th year as a registered nurse. In addition to her position as school nurse, she is the department chair for Student Support Services. For years, she has been trusted to help to ensure the health and wellbeing of our students and faculty; now she has become essential in helping to guide St. Martin’s safely through a global pandemic.

In this Snapshot of a Saint, we learn more about Nurse Smilari and her thoughts on how we can have a safe and healthy start to the school year. Here’s our Q&A with Nurse Smilari:

How many years have you been a nurse?
I have been a registered nurse for 37 years.

How many years have you been at St. Martin’s?
I have been at St. Martin’s for 13 years.

Why did you choose to become a school nurse?
I chose to become a school nurse because I am able to care for and educate our students to maintain their physical and emotional health in a school setting.

What has been one of the hardest parts about being a school nurse during a world-wide health crisis?  
The hardest part is not being on campus with the students. That’s the best part of the job, seeing the students interacting with their friends and teachers. 

What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part is helping to figure out a way to keep our community safe and healthy while balancing the need for a true “St. Martin’s” education.

St. Martin’s is small by design. How has our size been a particular advantage as we plan for the safe return of students in August?
Our student population is small, but our campus is large. This allows us to have a great deal of flexibility in arranging class location and size to allow for adequate spacing and ventilation required to keep everyone healthy.

In your opinion, what are the three most important steps we can take as an StM community that will help keep our students, faculty, and campus healthy and safe?
The three most important steps I would like to see taken are:
  1. Stay home if you are sick.
  2. Follow handwashing, physical distancing and face covering procedures.
  3. Try to limit your interactions outside of campus to minimize your exposure to others.

With the recent release of the new COVID-19 Policy and Procedures, is there anything of significant importance that you really want to stress?
Probably the most important thing is to stay home if you are unwell. Often students come in because they are worried about missing a test or an important class. Our faculty is more than willing to work with each student and would respect the decision to stay home for illness.

Face coverings are now required to be worn in public by people 8 years old and up. Do you have any suggestions for our parents and students in grades 3 - 12 that could help ease their minds about wearing them?
Each child is different but my biggest suggestion would be to find a mask the child is comfortable wearing, and encourage the student to wear it for periods during the day. This will be a real challenge for some. Once they return to school, if some students are struggling, we are prepared to work with them.

What message do you have for families who might be feeling anxious about the start of the school year?
I can assure all families that we have considered every scenario possible to prepare to have students back in a safe, healthy, and fun environment with the students ready to learn.

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