Condon combats coronavirus despite uncertainties

Condon displays her sticker after receiving the Moderna vaccine.


Condon displays her sticker after receiving the Moderna vaccine.

Madison Beekman

Every Thursday for 16 years of her 30-year career in nursing, Dorothy Condon would retire from her school nurse duties at CHS just to continue healthcare work in the Recovery Room of the Shrewsbury Surgery Center, also known as the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), and Operating Room. But now, in Condon’s third and most demanding year as District Head Nurse/Health Services Coordinator, she hasn’t been able to return to this second occupation.

“As the district Head Nurse, I oversee the nursing coverage of our other buildings, constantly monitor how many positive cases we have on a daily basis, how many students and faculty on self-quarantine due to exposure, order PPE for the district and report all information to administration,” Condon said. “I spend a great deal of time on my computer now preparing reports and tracking numbers. Presently, I’m planning the next phase of COVID, vaccinating our students and staff.”

This vaccination process started with Condon herself, as she received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Monday, Jan. 4. Despite healthcare workers being offered the vaccine first, Condon explained that the process was harder than she’d expected.

An email on Dec. 30 said that nurses could begin registering to get vaccinated, but Condon spent five days trying to make an appointment, as “finding a place that had open reservations was near impossible.” Ultimately, she found that Visiting Nurse Association in Asbury had a few open spots.

On the day of the appointment, Condon waited outside for about 40 minutes and then another 20 until it was her turn.

“[The vaccine was] well worth the wait! I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now. My second vaccine will be on 2/2/2021. [I] feel confident that after I receive my second shot, I’ll be less fearful taking care of students and faculty with symptoms,” she said.

Her role as the CHS school nurse, along with the other nurses in the district and worldwide, has drastically changed since the coronavirus outbreak in March. Some of the new responsibilities they hold include monitoring the daily “Red Light, Green Light” COVID-19 screenings and contact tracing.

“When we learn of a positive case we do school-based contact tracing which includes notifying parents that their child has been identified as a close contact, sometimes notifying the bus driver that they have been identified as a close contact and also home high schools if the positive student plays sports or participates in home school programs,” Condon explained. “We spend a great deal of time answering parent and faculty questions, and some of us are still teaching, like myself.”

One of her most important tasks currently is preparing for teachers in the district to receive the vaccine, as they are in the next tier of those who will be eligible. 

Teachers were sent a district-wide survey asking who wants to be vaccinated with a deadline of Wednesday, Jan. 13, which was made into a spreadsheet of all teachers and whether they are opting in or out. The goal is to have numbers ready for the Monmouth County Health Department once they finish nurses’ vaccines.

Right now, teachers are supposed to start getting vaccinations at the end of the month, but only “time will tell,” according to Condon. She is also “willing to have our district school nurses vaccinate their school’s teachers. However, this may not be possible as the vaccine needs to be kept at a certain temperature and we may not be able to accommodate this requirement.”

Despite the controversy surrounding the vaccine, Condon has faith in modern medicine and healthcare, and has experienced no obvious side effects, besides a sore arm. She hopes that the vaccine will prevent her and others from being the next COVID statistic, and that the return to normalcy is nearby.

“Vaccines save lives. I never had any qualms about it and anxiously awaited its arrival. I’m hopeful that we can get back to business and a ‘new normal’ as quickly as possible,” she said. “I want my students at CHS to be able to participate in all the great programs we have that make our school so special.”