Nurses Corner

Ms. Kathy O'Shea, RN, BSN

Parents/Students, please be doing the daily health screening to ensure that students who are showing symptoms of illness stay home.

*Students who are Covid positive must stay home for 10 days from the start of symptoms and may return on day 11.  First day of symptoms is counted as day 0.

If you have any questions about Covid protocols in PWCS call the Family Support Line at 703-791-7845 or email [email protected]

Please be mindful of the following COVID-19 symptoms:
High Risk Symptoms
Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Low Risk Symptoms
Sore Throat
Nasal congestion/nasal discharge
Generalized muscle aches

We are aware that Covid symptoms are similar to other ailments,

If your student is presenting with symptoms you may want to test them.
If a student has any of the following symptoms, 911 will be called immediately:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
New confusion
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish or gray color of lips or skin

Parents of Rising seniors should be aware the the Meningococcal vaccine is required for Senior year.


The deadline for twelfth-grade students to meet the new immunization requirement for the Meningococcal Conjugate (MenACWY) immunization is January 6, 2022. If proof of these required immunizations is not provided by January 5, 2022, the student will be excluded from school starting January 6, 2022, until the required immunization documentation has been provided to the school.
 If you have questions, please contact the school nurse at [email protected] or visit the  immunization requirements webpage. 

Health and Med Forms

Reg 757-2 - Allergy Action Plan

Reg 753-8 - Cancer Tx Plan

Reg 757-6 - Diabetic Health Tx plan

Reg 757-3 - Attachment I - Emergency Treatment Plan Form (PDF)

Reg 757-4 - Attachment I - Medication Authorization form for OTC and Rx meds (PDF)

Asthma Action Plan and Attachment I of Reg 757-5 - both required
Asthma Action Plan (PDF) (new/revised as of 8/2015)
Please also complete Attachment I- Waiver of liability (757-5) (PDF) - must be submitted with completed asthma action plan

When to keep your student Home or Reasons they may be sent home from school:

  1. Fever of  100.4 degrees (Fahrenheit) or over: Student must be fever free for 24 hours without medication.
  2. Conjunctivitis (pink eye), strep infections, and impetigo are all infections that must be treated with medication for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to school. Please do not send them to school sooner to prevent spread of infection to other students.
  3. Rash of unknown origin  ( especially if accompanied by fever)
  4. Head injury
  5. Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
  6. Colds-a student with thick or constant nasal discharge should remain home
  7. Diarrhea or vomiting -exclude until symptom free for at least 24 hours.
  8. Stiff neck associated with fever and/or recent injury
  9. Inadequate immunizations with known disease outbreak in school.
  10. Refer to VDOH "Communicable disease reference chart for school Personnel" for other exclusion information.

Clinic Information:

The school health program is to support student learning in a safe, healthy environment. You can help ensure the health and safety of all Patriot High School students by:

  • Notifying your school nurse of any health concerns or chronic health condition that may affect your child's school day.
  • Following PWCS regulations when requesting medication to be given to your child during the school day.
  • Providing current emergency contact information for your student, keeping the emergency card updated at all times.
  • Notifying school personnel if your child is absent due to a contagious illness.
  • Keeping sick students at home (see Reg. 757-1, Attachment (PDF)) and supporting school staff in keeping well children in school.
  • Notifying PE teachers directly if your child has any PE restrictions.
  • Encouraging good hygiene/hand washing practices at home and school.

General Health Information:


Allergies versus a Cold

You've got a runny nose, a cough, and congestion. So have you caught a cold or is it allergies? Unfortunately, it's often hard to tell -- even for doctors. But here's information that may help. Read on to learn more about the causes and treatments of cold and allergy symptoms.

What Are Colds and Allergies?

Colds are caused by hundreds of different viruses. When one of these viruses gets into your body, your immune system attacks it. Some of the effects of this immune response are the classic symptoms of a cold, such as congestion and coughing.

The germs that cause colds are contagious. You can pick them up when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or shakes hands with you. After a couple of weeks, at the most, your immune system fights off the virus and you should stop having symptoms.

Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body mistakes harmless substances -- such as dust or pollen -- for germs and attacks them. Your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause swelling in your nasal passages, a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Allergies are not contagious, although some people may inherit a tendency to develop them.

Differences Between Colds and Allergies by Characteristic
Characteristic Cold Allergy
Duration three-14 days Days to months -- as long as you are exposed to the allergen
Time of Year Most often in the winter, but possible at any time Any time of the year -- although the appearance of some allergens are seasonal
Onset of symptoms Symptoms take a few days to appear after infection with the virus. Symptoms can begin immediately after exposure to the allergen

Differences Between Colds and Allergies by Symptom

Symptom Cold Allergy
Cough Often Sometimes
Aches Sometimes Never
Fatigue Sometimes Sometimes
Fever Rarely Never
Itchy, watery eyes Rarely Often
Sore throat Often Sometimes
Runny or stuffy nose Often; usually yellow mucus Often; usually clear mucus

Although there are some differences, cold and allergy symptoms overlap quite a bit. The most important difference is that colds usually don't last longer than 14 days. If you still have symptoms after two weeks, see your doctor. These may be allergy symptoms or a sign of another problem.

Prevention and Treatment of Colds and Allergies

Because the causes of cold and allergy symptoms are quite different, preventing them requires different strategies.

To prevent allergy symptoms, avoid substances you're allergic to, called allergens. So if you're allergic to pollen, for instance, avoid going outside on days when the pollen count is high. Here are some common allergens:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches

To prevent cold symptoms, prevent the cold-causing virus from getting into your system. Keep your distance from people who have colds. Wash your hands often. To protect others, always cover your mouth and nose (with a tissue or your sleeve, rather than your hands) when sneezing or coughing.

There is no cure for either the common cold or allergies. But there are ways to ease the cold and allergy symptoms.

To treat either cold or allergy symptoms, you can try:

  • Antihistamines , which block the effects of histamine, a natural substance that causes symptoms such as congestion and a runny nose
  • Decongestants, which reduce swelling in the mucus membranes of the nasal passages, making you feel less stuffy

If you have any medical problems, or take other medicines, talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines.

To treat allergy symptoms, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Nasal steroids, which reduce swelling in the nasal passages, relieving congestion and other symptoms
  • Allergy shots, called immunotherapy, which involves being injected with a small amount of the substance to which you are allergic. Over time, the dose is increased. By exposing you to greater and greater amounts of the allergen, your body may develop a tolerance to it and not cause symptoms.

To treat cold symptoms, you may also try:

  • Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Advil or Aleve, or Tylenol, to treat fever, aches and pains
  • Getting extra rest
  • Drinking plenty of fluids

Lyme Disease

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.

How is Lyme disease spread?
The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are transmitted through the bites of infected ticks. In the Eastern U.S., the only tick known to spread Lyme disease is the blacklegged tick (formerly called the “deer tick”). Spread of the Lyme disease bacteria from an infected tick to a person is not likely to occur unless the tick has been attached to the person’s body for at least 36 hours. Lyme disease is not known to be spread to humans from other insects or animals, or from one person to another. It occurs most commonly during the late spring and early summer months, but can occur during the fall and winter.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrains. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

How is Lyme disease diagnosed and treated?
Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

How can Lyme disease be prevented?
Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.

Where can I get more information about Lyme disease?
CDC Fact Sheet

graphic of hand washing under a faucet
Video on Hand washing x 2

View videos on learning how to wash hands to prevent the spread of germs.

"Fight The Flu with Community Immunity"

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu shot for anyone over six months old.  The Health Department encourages everyone that is eligible for the flu vaccine to get one because this will extend protection to those who cannot get the flu vaccine.  In effect achieve "Community Immunity." Read more on people at high risk for flu complications

Flu Facts:
The flu vaccine is the best way to fight the flu
It is safe and effective
Cannot cause the flu

Fight the Flu:
Cover your sneezes and coughs
Wash your hands
Stay home from school when you are sick
Annual flu vaccine

Cover Your Cough / Cold and Flu Season

Stop the spread of Germs!!!!!!
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough or use your upper sleeve.
Clean Your Hands after coughing or sneezing. 
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 sec or clean with alcohol- based hand cleaner.


Voices of Meningitis is a Meningococcal Disease Prevention Campaign form the National Association of School Nurses in collaboration with Sanoti Pasteur

What is meningococcal meningitis?  Meningococcal disease, which includes meningtitis, is a serious bacterial infection that strikes between 1000 to 2600 Americans each year.  Although rare, meningococcal disease can cause meningitis (swelling of the brain or spinal cord) or meningococcemia (blood infection).  Vaccination is a safe and effective way to help protect preteens and teens from this potentially devastating disease. 

To get the facts, visit the 16 Vaccine website for more information.



There have been cases of Mumps diagnosed in a couple of Richmond Universities so here is some information on Mumps so be vigilent in watching for signs and symptoms in your child /children. 

Mumps is a highly infectious disease. It mainly affects children, but adults can also be affected.

The mumps virus is spread by inhaling droplets.

The incubation period (time between infection and the onset of symptoms) is about 12 to 25 days. The contagious period begins about two days before the swelling of lymph nodes and ends about 9 days after.

A typical sign of the disease is unilateral swelling of the parotid glands (parotitis). The patient has a swollen cheek, like a hamster.

  • Problems with chewing and swallowing
  • Often very high fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Inflammation of the lining of the mouth

No cure, prevention by vaccination.

Symptomatic Treatment

  • Wet cloths to reduce fever
  • Cold compresses around the neck, cheek
  • Abundant water consumption
  • Strict bed rest for fever 
  •  The food in the form of boiled and mashed reduces salivary secretion, which improves the swallowing of the child.
  • Good oral hygiene 

If you feel your child/children have this disease please see your healthcare provider right away and notify the school nurse as soon as possible of the diagnosis.

person coughing

Pertussis ( Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. It begins with mild cold symptoms and gradually progresses for the next week or two, and can further progress into repeated attacks of severe coughing that can last a month or longer. The classic “whoop” sound may or may not occur in young infants, adolescents and adults. Pertussis can occur at any age, but it is most often diagnosed in young children. The total course of the disease is from six to 10 weeks. Pertussis is transmitted by direct contact with discharge from the nose or throat of an infected person or by breathing in infected droplets in the air where an infected person coughs. The incubation period ranges from seven to 20 days.

If your child develops any symptoms lasting longer than one-to-two weeks or has repeated attacks of severe coughing, please contact your physician or the Prince William County Health District at 703.791.6300.

This is a good opportunity to remind everyone regarding simple steps that you can take to keep your family healthy. These include:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Clean hands with an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Avoid close contact with those who have symptoms of illness.
  • If you need to seek care for you or your child, please call ahead to your health care provider’s office and tell them what symptoms you have so they can see you quickly and prevent exposing other people in the waiting room.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 703.594.3189.

Fun In The Sun

Remember to follow these recommendations from the American Cancer Society as you enjoy the sun this summer:

  1. Avoid long periods outside in intense sunlight ( between 10am - 4pm)
  2. If going outside, wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or more and cover up with clothing, hats and sunglasses
  3. Stay out of tanning booths
  4. Check your skin regularly for any suspicious blemishes, spots or moles
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