Wassom overcomes near impossible challenges to keep HHS safe


Lexie Crawford

District nurse Rhonda Wassom has worked diligently to keep HHS students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

     Sirens wailing, transporting traumas, and paperwork stacking on top of each other. Rhonda Wassom’s day just can’t get any more hectic. No two days were alike when working in the emergency room (ER) for front line workers like Wassom.

     “I knew it was going to be a lot of logistics coming back to school,” Wassom said when the district started to draw up plans for coming back to school. She thought it was very beneficial for her to have been working in the ER along with being the school nurse. Her main point of emphasis on what she took from being on the front line was understanding how necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) was. 

     Wassom is one of the district nurses at Highlands High School. She got her nursing degree from Indiana University and started working in the field just over 30 years ago, serving in the hospital for a bulk of those years. She became a nurse for the Bluebirds five years ago.

     She vocalized how much space Fort Thomas Independent Schools (FTIS) has compared to the population of the school, which helps for social distancing purposes. FTIS also has a very smart and connected staff to support each other and be successful. 

     Working in the emergency room, Wassom not only used her knowledge of how the hospital was changing but also understood how important some things like PPE and the guidelines were to shape FTIS’ guidelines to learn and engage whilst staying COVID-19 free. 

     The emotional toll of being in-person during COVID-19 has had a bigger impact on her life than the actual illness. During this time, her sister was diagnosed with a terminal illness and due to COVID-19, she couldn’t visit her. 

     “I feel like there is so much of the tracking component that I’ve never had to do before on kids that have symptoms when they can return if there is appropriate paperwork being done,” Wassom expressed.

     Communication is a very big and somewhat hectic component of Wassom’s life, as it is in the lives of other nurses in the district.  They have to cross-reference their data, so spreadsheets and paperwork fill up her computer at school. As a parent, she doesn’t have as much free time; she does enjoy being outdoors, cooking, and doing landscaping, when she does get time, though. Considering she lives on a farm, Wassom has found countless ways to pass time during this pandemic. 

     “If anyone can be successful at in-person school it’s Fort Thomas,” Wassom expressed.