Category Archives: From the School Nurse

Medication at School

Medication Pick-up: Parents of students who have medication stored in the health room should pick it up by the last day of school, June 22. All medication (pills, epi-pens, inhalers, etc.) not picked up will be discarded. Please plan ahead to pick medication up so it is not wasted! Medication may not be carried home by the student — it must be picked up by an adult. School nurses will not be available after June 22 to return medication to families.

Medication Order Reminder: All medication orders expire at the end of the school year. If you are visiting your child’s health care provider during the summer, consider requesting a new medication order for your child. All medication, prescription or over-the-counter, requires an order. The Medication Permission Form and the Medication Policy are both available online at

Summer Food for Students

Backpacks filled with a few meal’s worth of nonperishable items will be available this summer for students at locations throughout Newton. The program – a collaboration between the Church of the Redeemer’s FUEL program and the city is an effort to bridge the food gap for students who may rely on school breakfast and lunch during the year. Backpacks may include bread, peanut butter, canned fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. Nut-free bags can be requested. The locations include: Health and Human Services Department, Church of the Redeemer, West Suburban YMCA, The Boys & Girls Club, Crystal Lake, Gath Pool, Newton Free Library, and many more!


What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?

Be a part of the solution to the opioid epidemic. Misuse of prescription drugs is a common way for teens and adults to start down the road of addiction. The most typical place young people get access to prescription drugs is their home medicine cabinet. A few simple steps taken by adults can have a significant impact. Immediately and safely dispose of unused medication. Two Newton locations are available year-round: the Newton Police Station and Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Here are additional tips, and specific addresses and resources.

Smartphones and Kids

Thinking of getting your student a smartphone this summer? The letter below (and PDF here) targeted to elementary school families highlights research and resources available to help parents navigate this decision in the context of their own family’s values and circumstances. Additional information relevant to students of all ages is available on the Newton Public Schools website, including suggested guidelines from Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

Letter Regarding Smartphones
June 7, 2018

Dear Parents and Legal Guardians of Elementary School Students,

Over the past few years, the use of smartphones has grown exponentially. At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest caution when providing children with their own mobile devices.

Every family has their own values and circumstances that shape their approach to cellphone ownership and use. Based on recent research and discussion around the effects of smartphone use on youth, Newton’s Health and Human Services department would like to provide some guidance and resources around smartphones and mobile devices for children. Please consider the following:

  • Delay cell phone introduction: Elementary school students are encouraged to focus on face to face relationship building and active engagement with learning and play. Additionally, mobile devices and the associated applications can become stressors when misused and/or overused, potentially leading to bullying, low self-esteem, privacy and safety issues or concerns. Therefore, we discourage the introduction of smartphones at this developmental stage. Every child and famil situation is unique and only you know what is best for your child. However, in general, we encourage the postponement of providing young children with mobile devices until at least middle school and we encourage consideration by Newton families of waiting until 8th grade or later for smartphones.
  • Start slow: Whenever you do decide to introduce a mobile device, consider a flip phone, “light” phone, or other device with limited features that is primarily used for phone calls and text messages. These are not web-enabled or equipped with apps, games, or social media.
  • Establish clear guidelines and use limits: Start the conversation about limits, including amount of use and time of day (i.e. limit or prohibit use at night for optimal sleep). Many families choose to create “contracts” with their children to clarify expectations.
  • Utilize parental controls and monitor use: There are many devices and apps that help control access to both the Internet and specific apps. Maintain access and know passwords to all accounts. You can find additional resources and guidance on the Newton Public Schools website here including these suggested guidelines from Newton-Wellesley Hospital (PDF). We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with you as we work to ensure our children learn to use technology in healthy and responsible ways.


Deborah Youngblood
Commissioner of Health and Human Services

From the Zervas Nurse: Flu Facts

Hello Zervas Families,

This year seems to be an extra tough flu season. To help combat this, the Newton Health Department has put together an information sheet, which I share with you below.


Deana Salameh BSN, RN
Zervas Elementary School 

Flu Facts: February School Health Newsletter

Local rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) continue to rise. They’re already higher than in the past few years with weeks of flu season still expected. We understand many families are concerned, so here are a few flu facts to keep you in the loop.

ILI, which is a fever of 100 degrees or more and cough or sore throat, is how disease trackers measure the flu nationwide. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health posts a weekly flu update on their blog most Fridays with the latest information about how ILI rates are looking in the state.

It remains important for families to keep sick kids at home, in accordance with school policy. Students cannot return to school until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours, without medication like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin. These guidelines are also good common sense for adults in the workplace. The checklist below can help families determine when to stay home and when to return to school or work.

The Newton school nurses continue to monitor illness in the schools and are available for any questions or concerns. It may seem elementary, but in conjunction with a flu vaccine, thorough handwashing is the best way to prevent all kinds of illness including the flu.

How to wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs and might not remove harmful chemicals.

Flu vaccination for all people age 6 months and older continues to be recommended. It’s not too late get a flu shot. Visit or call 617-796-1420 to find out when the next flu shot opportunity is with the public health nurse at City Hall.

Some information adapted from and

From the School Nurse: Flu Update

Dear Zervas families,

We are writing you update you about the flu in our area.

The latest statewide flu report (Jan. 26, Massachusetts Department of Public Health) indicates flu activity is widespread in the state, which is not unexpected for this time of year. However, the rate of influenza-like illness (ILI), is higher than the past two flu seasons. ILI, which is a fever of 100 degrees or more and cough or sore throat, is how disease trackers measure the flu nationwide.

The Newton school nurses continue to monitor illness in the schools and are available for any questions or concerns.

It remains important for families to keep sick kids at home, in accordance with school policy. Students cannot return to school until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours, without medication like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin. The checklist below can help families determine when to stay home and when to return.

Flu vaccination for all people age 6 months and older continues to be recommended. It’s not too late get a flu shot. Call 617-796-1420 to make a vaccination appointment with the public health nurse in City Hall.

Newton Health and Human Services Department

From the School Nurse: January Newsletter

As you have probably heard, there is a lot of flu around this year. Both respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses have been circulating in the schools. Remember all of these stay healthy tips:

 Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness.

  • Wash your hands often — when they are dirty, before eating, after using the restroom and after sneezing into a tissue
  • Use soap and warm water and rub your hands together for at least 15 seconds before rinsing and drying.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are ok to use when your hands aren’t visibly dirty

Cough Etiquette

  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands – use a tissue or your elbow

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

Stay away from people who are sick, and stay home when you are sick

If your child unfortunately does get sick, please follow the illness policy of the Newton Public Schools. You must keep a child at home if s/he has:

  • a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the past 24 hours (or has taken a fever reducing medication within the past 24 hours)
  • a cold in the active stages: coughing, running nose, sneezing
  • a sore throat and/or swollen neck glands
  • an undiagnosed rash or skin eruption
  • vomiting or diarrhea during the past 24 hours
  • head lice that has not been treated

If you are uncertain if your child should come to school, please contact the school nurse. Additionally, it is helpful if you report illness to the school when keeping your child home. Nurses monitor illness patterns throughout the school district.

Deana Salameh, RN               (617) -559-6755

November is National Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month

On January 19, 2003, Jordan Weiss, a fourth grade student at Mason-Rice School in Newton, Massachusetts passed away in his sleep from complications of undiagnosed diabetes.

To honor Jordan’s memory, the JBW Fund was established by his family, friends and community to foster awareness and education of the warning signs of diabetes.  Sometimes the signs are obvious and sometimes the signs are subtle, limited and attributed to another illness.  The latter was the case for Jordan.

Become familiar with the warning signs of diabetes

Knowledge is an important weapon against this disease and its complications.

Warning Signs of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes:

These symptoms can occur suddenly and must receive immediate medical attention.

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination, sometimes exhibited by bedwetting (in large quantities)
  • Blurry vision
  • Sugar in the urine
  • Sweet, fruity odor on breath
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness, lethargy
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Confusion, Stupor, Unconsciousness

Type 2 Diabetes:

These symptoms occur gradually and must receive immediate medical attention.

  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in the legs, feet or fingers
  • Darker patches of skin usually in neck folds
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow healing sores or frequent infections
  • Any of the symptoms listed under Type 1 diabetes

Many of these symptoms can be related to illnesses that are not associated with diabetes. This should be discussed with a health care provider.

For more information, talk to your school nurse or visit: or

Deana Salameh BSN, RN

Zervas Elementary School

(617) 559-6755

Fax (617) 552-5546

School Health Newsletter

Communicating with the School Nurse

In order for the school nurse to be as well prepared as possible to care for students coming to the health room, it is helpful to have the “big picture” perspective for each child. Parents and guardians should know they have an open invitation to communicate with the school nurse both about physical changes such as significant illness, hospitalization, injury, and medication (even if not taken at school), and about social and emotional changes.

Examples include changes in the family structure such as a new sibling, parental separation, illness/death in the family or a parent traveling. It is also helpful for the nurse to know if a student is having trouble adjusting to school or if a parent is concerned about bullying or classroom issues.

The goal for the school nurse is to keep students in school whenever possible. This “big
picture” kind of information, along with phone calls for parent consultation, is helpful to
achieve this goal.

Additional tips for communicating with the school nurse:

  • For urgent or time-sensitive matters, please call. Occasionally there is a substitute nurse who cannot access the email of the regular school nurse.
  • Parents should drop off medication directly to the school nurse instead of sending it with the student.
  • Keep contact information such as cell phone and work phone numbers updated.

Let’s keep in touch to meet the needs of your child.
To reach the Zervas School Nurse, Deana Salameh, please call her at 617-559- 6866 or email her at

From the School Nurse

This month I will be starting hearing and vision screenings, beginning with the kindergartners. If anyone would prefer their child not be screened, please let me know. Also, I would like to remind families that the Zervas Flu Clinic will be held Thursday October 19, and the last day to bring in forms is Tuesday October 17.