By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A memorandum of agreement between Norman Public Schools and Variety Care, Inc. approved by the Norman School Board Monday will establish a fully-functioning health clinic at Longfellow Middle School this fall.
“This memorandum of agreement is a step in the direction of using the district’s community collaborations to make our schools a link between students and families and appropriate health services,” said Superintendent Joe Siano. “Services will include immunizations, wellness checkups, sick child visits, and if further services are needed, the clinic will refer patients to partner agencies through Variety Care.”
Siano said the decision to locate the clinic at Longfellow was based on Longfellow’s central location and proximity to Norman Regional Hospital, where pediatric physicians will act as the clinic’s supervising doctors.
“We’re building on the philosophy of collaborations and what makes our district strong — we’re not the specialists in everything, and we can’t succeed in academics without good health services for our students and their families,” Siano said.
Variety Care Regional Manager Brian Karnes said the clinic will serve Longfellow students and their families, integrating services for the surrounding community and entire NPS staff and students once the clinic is fully operational.
“Our plan is to start with Longfellow families and expand quickly as need demands,” Karnes said. “What we’re looking at is embedding a mid-level nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant in the school to provide comprehensive services in conjunction with NPS health staff. Children with chronic needs will be served and full services for family and staff - it will be just like visiting your doctor and speaking to a mid-level practitioner in their office.”
The clinic floor plan will ensure that visitors use a separate, exterior door from the school building to enter and exit, and the clinic will not have access to the main school building for both security purposes and to allow year-round functioning.
Additional items addressed by the board were updating the district’s e-rate policies to comply with federal guidlines. E-rate is the Schools and Libraries program of the Universal Service Fund through the Federal Communications Commission.
Changes in policy language pertained to records-keeping, acceptance of gifts and purchases.
To conclude the meeting, board member Cindy Nashert was selected to represent the Norman School Board and community as the Oklahoma State School Boards Association State Legislative Network Representative.
“Norman needs a voice in legislation proceedings and I think local school boards’ voice will be key,” Siano said.
“I had the idea I’d spend a lot of time talking to various legislators and I discovered I had to reach out to them and not the other way around,” said board member and former representative Julie Raaschelders. “I know Cindy sees representatives at events through her business ownership and I’d encourage her to be more proactive than I was.”