The National Association of School Nurses recommends a nurse-to-student ratio of 1:750 for healthy students.
"That number is just for things like scrapes and stomach aches," Ballard said.
That student ratio number lessens depending on how many cases need daily intervention from a school nurse.
Kanawha County's nurse-to-student ratio is 1:812. West Virginia's ratio is 1:1,064.
"We have a number of students with health issues that require a school nurse to participate in their care," Isaac said. "Every situation is different. We don't deal with health conditions; we deal with students."
Each of the four schools in Kanawha County that do have a full-time nurse on site have at least one student enrolled with "very serious health conditions that can be immediately life-threatening," Isaac said.
"These students require procedures that are complicated enough that we cannot delegate non-health professionals to perform them," she said. "These students are entitled to an education and are otherwise able to learn."
The county's nurses work hard to identify student health problems, communicate closely with physicians and parents and put emergency plans in place, Isaac said.
"Just because there are not nurses designated to one specific school around the clock doesn't mean we don't have a plan. We have care plans and work with staff in the building that are trained to deal with situations," she said. "Every single nurse in the county has a significant caseload and is very busy dealing with these issues."
Isaac said that while Kanawha County has 10 more nurses than it did a decade ago, she's unsure of the feasibility of Point Harmony's plan to hire a full-time nurse at the school.
The average cost of a full-time certified school nurse in the area is about $60,000, including benefits.
"A school like Point Harmony would really benefit from a full-time nurse, and other schools certainly would, too. I appreciate what they're fighting for, but fundraising for that could be problematic," she said. "I would love to be able to find a stable source of revenues so that we could have nurses at every school -- or at least at our big schools -- but you've got to be able to show some sustainability if you're going to hire somebody. I'm not sure PTO money could provide that."
Kanawha County Board of Education President Pete Thaw said it's not an issue of whether more nurses are needed.
"It's just a matter of economics. I know we don't have room for that in our budget," he said. "We don't have the money to put a nurse in all of these schools. If we had the money, we would do it, but we don't."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.