Cary-Grove’s Martha Manno and Crystal Lake South’s Colleen Wing were recently announced as 2023 recipients of the Lina Rogers Award, which recognizes school health professionals who work in partnership with public health in providing healthier schools and communities.
Manno and Wing are both members of McHenry County's School Nurse Advisory Committee (SNAC), which played a critical role in preparing a safe return to school during the pandemic.
“It was definitely a collaboration between public health and school health,” Manno said. “That relationship makes a significant difference with absenteeism, student accomplishments — and that was accentuated during the COVID times. I felt like at that point we really needed to try to keep schools open and students in schools as much as possible.”
The Lina Rogers Award is typically awarded to one or two recipients each year, but a decision was made this year to honor all 12 members of SNAC for their key contributions.
“The task force was responsible for a lot of things,” Manno said. “They produced a toolkit for all of the nurses in the whole district area to keep track of the kids who had COVID and who were close contacts, and what to do with all of the instructions. We had a lot of checkoff lists and resources for nurses as well as the parents and students.”
SNAC also worked with the McHenry County Health Department (MCDH) and district superintendents to vaccinate 5,600 staff members in McHenry County twice.
“That was huge, because we were almost first in the state,” Manno said. “We needed staff to be here to get the students in here, so to keep staff healthy was key.”
The task force also detailed its work in an article, which was published in the National Association of School Nurses Journal.
The award is named after the nation’s first school nurse, Lina Rogers, who was hired by the New York City public schools in 1902.
The mission of the task force is to “strengthen the link between public health nursing and school nursing,” and to “provide the MCDH with a school nursing resource to collaborate on mutually beneficial initiatives.”
“I’m super honored that I was awarded this, but I really look up to these ladies that have really paved the way,” said Wing, who joined the task force this year. “I appreciate that I was even recognized because what they went through that first year was unbelievably daunting to say the least.”