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Graduation rate in Dawson County remains above 95 percent
Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Despite the turmoil over the last year, as classes were canceled and pushed online due to COVID-19, the graduation rate in Dawson County for 2020 remains one of the highest in the state, according to Dawson County Schools Superintendent Damon Gibbs. 

At a board of education meeting held this week, Gibbs announced that the official graduation rates for each school district have finally been released by the state, expressing how proud of the Dawson County school system he and his staff are. 

“As of today officially, the state of Georgia released their graduation rates, and we’re very proud of our 96 percent graduation rate,” Gibbs said. “It’s a great effort of K-12 in Dawson County, and that does not come easily.” 

This rate gives the school system five years in a row of achieving a 95 percent or higher graduation rate, which according to Gibbs is a feat.

“I think that we may be one of only a handful in the state of Georgia that can make that claim, and we’re very very proud of the work that our folks are doing,” Gibbs said. “There’s a lot of issues that our students face on a daily basis, and to have a staff that gets those kids to come to school, do their best and finish their high school education makes me very proud of that work that we all do as a team.”

Board receives health services update 

During the meeting Director of Youth Health Services Vikki Brannon came before the board to present an update on the school system’s nursing program. According to Brannon, the district currently has a school nurse in every building in the school system, something that not every district in the area has. 

“As of now, we have one master's prepared registered nurse, four registered nurses, three licensed practical nurses and one certified medical assistant, and we are going to add another registered nurse at the end of this month,” Brannon said. 

The school nurses do much more and see many more students than many people may realize, according to Brannon. 

“Our nurses are seeing from 30,000 to 40,000 students in a school year, which is about 3,000 to 4,000 students a month,” Brannon said. “Our nurses are prepared for anything and everything to walk through the door.” 

In addition to that patient load, school nurses are responsible for much more than just sick visits, according to Brannon. 

“Some of the things that our nurses are responsible for are sick visits and daily medication administration, whether that be for ADHD, psychological or psychiatric disorders or anything else that requires medication throughout the day,” Brannon said. “And then there’s skilled nursing procedures such as tube feedings or ventilators and diabetic, asthmatic or epileptic management throughout the day.” 

The nurses also handle health education and promotion throughout the school year, as well as routine screenings such as a scoliosis screening. 

“We’re here for much more than band-aids and boo-boos,” Brannon said. “We’re supposed to be healthcare leaders in our school system.” 

The effort put in by each of the nurses is paramount for making sure that all of the county’s students are given the opportunity to get a great education, Gibbs said after the presentation. 

“Most people don’t know, but we have some extremely medically fragile students in our schools,” Gibbs said. “It’s a group effort to serve all of our students, but what a great job our staff does to keep especially those medically fragile students in school and keep them healthy.”