JEFFERSON — Responding to increased health needs in the district during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jefferson school board approved a new health aide position Monday night and started the process to approve the position description.

The new support staff position comes at an estimated cost of $18,846 (including salary and benefits). This 6.5-hour-per-day position will serve all of the district's schools on a rotating/as-needed basis, working under school nurse Lynn Zaspel.

The health aide will be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of defibrillators, as well as be trained in infection control, universal precautions, confidentiality and records management.

The new position will report to the building principal, associate principal and school nurse.

This position will provide direct health-related services to children, engage in clerical duties, oversee documentation and maintenance of facilities and facilitate efforts to promote optimal student health.

In addition, this person will monitor illness conditions, provide first aid, administer medication, review immunization compliance, maintain student health records and do contact tracing as needed.

Laura Peachey, director of business services for the Jefferson schools, said that as with many COVID-10 related expenses, it remains to be determined exactly where the funding for this position will be funded remains up in the air at this time.

She said that the district must wait until official enrollment figures are calculated for the year.

"When final budget figures are able to be calculated in October, there will be a better sense of how much can be fit into the budget, budget revisions that will need to be made, and how much (of this cost) will need to come from fund balance," Peachey said.

In the meantime, however, the business director said that the district's insurance costs are anticipated to come in lower than initially projected, so it's likely some funds will be able to be moved from that area to meet this new need.

Superintendent Mark Rollefson said that district officials anticipated this need over the summer, saying that the Jefferson schools are understaffed in terms of nursing services compared to some area districts, and now with additional COVID-19 concerns and the "inevitable" need for contact tracing, this addition is urgent.

Earlier in Monday's board meeting, the school board considered the position description for the health aide in its first reading. It is expected to be approved in its second reading in two weeks.

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