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Nurse Returns to Oriole Park Elementary After Ald. O'Connor's 'Outrage'

 Oriole Park Elementary School
Oriole Park Elementary School
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

NORWOOD PARK — A new school nurse started Thursday at Oriole Park Elementary School, two days after Ald. Mary O'Connor (41st) said she was "outraged" by the decision to reduce nursing services at the Norwood Park school.

The nurse will be assigned to Oriole Park for the remainder of the school year, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said. The nurse will be at the school twice a week for a portion of each school day, she said.

O'Connor, who faces a runoff April 7 against Chicago firefighter Anthony Napolitano, said Tuesday she was outraged by the decision by CPS officials to transfer one of Oriole Park's two nurses to Beard Elementary School, which serves students with special needs.

O'Connor Thursday thanked CPS officials for resolving the matter quickly.

“I hope this brings parents and faculty members some peace of mind to know that they will have another qualified medical professional in the building to provide a level of care to those students in need," O'Connor said.

Heather Cherone explains where this problem started:

School district officials reassigned a nurse from Oriole Park to Beard Elementary School in February after Ald. John Arena (45th) criticized CPS officials at a board meeting in December for not assigning a full-time nurse to the school, forcing teachers to administer medication and compromising students' care.

"CPS acted quickly to address the needs of the Oriole Park students [and] has assigned a certified [nurse] to provide the required level of service" after consulting with O'Connor's office, Huffman said in a statement.

Before the change announced Thursday, Oriole Park students had access to a nurse only on Mondays, school officials said.

Although both schools are in Norwood Park, Beard is in Arena's 45th Ward and Oriole Park is in the 41st Ward.

Arena faces a runoff April 7 against Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido.

A new nurse will be hired in the coming months and assigned permanently to work at Oriole Park Elementary and other schools, Huffman said.

CPS has approximately 450 nurses on staff at any given time, with approximately 200 of them rotating among schools across the district, Huffman said.

Earlier this month, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called for CPS officials to increase the number of school nurses on duty, indicating that the issue would be on the table during upcoming contract negotiations.

In December, CPS asked private companies to submit proposals to provide school nurses and health management services in an effort to save money.

Those proposals will help CPS develop a "cost-effective and demand-driven model to meet the needs of all students — general education and those with special needs," Huffman said.

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