"We love and care for our students. We feed them. We support them. We guide them through the process of growing up. We collaborate with parents and community resources to ensure they are safe and healthy. We do it together as a team, and I am proud to play my part."
Bliss Jones, Dalton High School's school nurse is being celebrated for her dedication to excellence throughout the 2020-2021 school year. As the district COVID coordinator, Jones is recognized for playing an essential role in implementing the COVID response for Dalton Public Schools.
In the wake of the pandemic, Jones modelled excellence by consistently showing up for others, remaining informed on new protocols and championing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
"I think I've been able to contribute to the success of our students and school this year by simply showing up, day after day, with a positive attitude and focus on our ultimate goal: to provide a meaningful and safe experience for our students," Jones said. "I was not alone at all in this regard! Our DPS family truly pulled together to give each other strength and determination to not only make it through the year but to make the year count. I know there were many days when I was renewed and energized by the support of my school community, and I hope I was able to reciprocate to others when they needed it."
Throughout the year, Jones juggled many responsibilities as the district COVID coordinator and school nurse. Jones recorded COVID cases, notified families of potential exposures, answered virtual learning questions and practiced contact tracing.
"I strive to provide good, evidence-based information, and during a pandemic with a brand new virus, that information evolves rapidly," Jones said. "Because of the months I spent working with the Infectious Disease Department of the North Georgia Health District, I was uniquely prepared with the experience and local connections to assist our district in monitoring and responding to COVID cases and exposures."
Jones believes DPS did an excellent job responding to the pandemic, citing the importance of clear communication and accurate reporting.
"We knew that good information and careful tracking of exactly what was going on with COVID among our students and staff would be crucial to effective and safe decisions for our district, so I worked very hard to make sure this information was current, comprehensive and accurately reported," Jones said. "Our school nurses are amazing. There is such collective wisdom among that group of professional women, and I'm so proud of the way we came together, assisted one another, and led our schools forward each day, keeping the health and safety of our students and staff as top priority."
While the clinic's phone rang off the hook, Jones practiced mindfulness and made sure the person in front of her felt seen and heard.
"I hope that each person that came to me with a question or concern, each student that faced quarantine, each staff member concerned about an exposure, all felt that they received my undivided attention and were treated with care, compassion and an understanding of the uncertainty they were facing," Jones said.
As the 2021 Dalton High School Classified Staff of the Year and Dale Cook Support Educator of the Year, Jones is well-known for her compassion and love of her role as a school nurse.
"School is so much more than just an education," Jones said. "We love and care for our students. We feed them. We support them. We guide them through the process of growing up. We collaborate with parents and community resources to ensure they are safe and healthy. We do it together as a team, and I am proud to play my part."
Jones applauds her peers for their diligence in providing a meaningful and safe school experience for their students.
"Dalton Public Schools is overflowing with staff who are doing amazing things to ensure the success of the students they serve," Jones said. "I am lucky to be able to work alongside them."
When she isn't treating injured or ill students, Jones is celebrating student successes and encouraging others to prioritize their mental health.
"As students come through my office, I strive to get to know each one and what makes them unique," Jones said. "I try to recognize the athletes, the musicians, those active in theater, JROTC, and other school and community activities."
In her free time, Jones teaches CPR classes and volunteers with the DEO Clinic, providing free primary and preventative care to low-income, uninsured adults in the community.
In preparing for this school year, Jones is looking forward to welcoming back students and collaborating with nurses, teachers, administrators and staff to address the needs of students.
"I continue to spend much time following trusted sources and engaging with local experts in our health district, to stay up-to-date on all of the latest data and recommendations," Jones said.