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COVID-19 has school nurses going beyond ‘boo-boos and Band-Aids’ | Morning Newsletter

And, experts assess Pennsylvania’s first year of mail voting.

Kathy McCutcheon, a school nurse at Haddon Township High School, takes a temperature at the door during a remote learning school day.
Kathy McCutcheon, a school nurse at Haddon Township High School, takes a temperature at the door during a remote learning school day.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Good morning, Philly. Here’s what you should know:

First, Pennsylvania reported 11,000 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, shattering its record for cases logged in a single day.

Then, that case explosion is putting a ton of stress on nurses — both in health-care facilities and in schools.

And, a priest and former adviser to European royalty was charged in Philadelphia with child pornography offenses.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

School nurses are playing key roles during the pandemic, whether schools are open for in-person teaching, hybrid instruction, or are fully remote.

It’s not boo-boos and Band-Aids,” said Donna M. Pleus, president-elect of the New Jersey State School Nurses Association. “You’re trying to do your best and prioritize and keep everybody in the building safe. That’s a lot to ask.”

My colleagues Melanie Burney and Kristen A. Graham report that school nurses are doing everything from taking temperatures and enforcing social distancing and sanitation rules to making sure everyone wears masks and conducting contact tracing. They are also looking out for students’ mental health and consult with local health officials.

And outside of schools, with coronavirus cases surging again, Philly-area nurses revealed to my colleagues Aubrey Whelan and Jason Laughlin what life on the front lines is like. Pennsylvania has asked the public to help protect hospitals from filling up.

Pennsylvania lawmakers had no way of knowing that a year after passing legislation to give voters an alternative way to cast their ballots that it would be tested during a worldwide pandemic. So, how did it go?

In interviews with Spotlight PA and Votebeat, experts and lawmakers said that allowing any voter to cast a mail ballot was fairly successful in its first year. That’s especially true considering the circumstances this year, which included a public health crisis, record voter turnout, Pennsylvania’s role as a key battleground state, and attacks by the sitting president meant to undermine the voting process.

But, those circumstances did expose some issues with a law that was supposed to make voting easier.

Helpful COVID-19 resources

  1. Check the current coronavirus-related restrictions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  2. Are you seeing people again after having COVID-19? Read our checklist first.

  3. Can you travel this winter? Should you? Is it safe to travel? By plane? By car?

  4. What are the first symptoms of the coronavirus and what are the differences in COVID-19, the flu, a common cold, and allergies?

  5. Everything you need to know about buying, washing, replacing, and wearing face masks.

  6. Track the spread of COVID-19 infections in the region.

  7. Sign up to get free coronavirus news updates in your inbox three times a week.

What you need to know today

  1. The Philadelphia School District may need to lay off or furlough employees this school year because of a budget deficit.

  2. A new COVID-19 testing program at Philadelphia International Airport starts today. My colleague Catherine Dunn has more details.

  3. A Catholic priest who served as an adviser to European royalty was federally charged in Philadelphia with child pornography offenses.

  4. A new program announced yesterday in Bucks County will pair police officers with social workers with the goal of diverting people in need of social services away from the criminal justice system.

  5. Philadelphia’s new Eviction Diversion Program launched in September and requires landlords to go to mediation with tenants in most cases before filing for evictions. So far, the program is showing some early success, my colleague Michaelle Bond reports.

  6. Philadelphians are experiencing weeks-long delays for COVID-19 test results after going to urgent cares and pop-up sites.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

There’s just something about symmetrical architecture that always seems to catch my eye. Thanks for sharing, @jasoncoopman.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

That’s interesting

  1. 🎁 Online shopping makes a lot of sense this holiday season. But even “sale” prices might not be the best prices out there. Here are some tips to save on gifts.

  2. 🧀 A lot of things will have to go right for the Eagles to upset the Packers on Sunday, beat reporter Paul Domowitch writes.

  3. 📺 Fox 29′s Alex Holley and Thomas Drayton are getting a late-night program that will go up against The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS and NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers.

  4. ⚾ Three employees who will leave the Phillies this year spoke to columnist Bob Brookover about what it was like to work for the team they love.

  5. ♻️ Environmentalists are skeptical about a Pennsylvania law that lays out regulations for “advanced recycling.”

  6. 🏀 Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can be like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, according to a new teammate who just won a championship with the Lakers.

Stay safe, do stuff

Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:

  1. 🍿 PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard (Movies / in-person / drive-in / family friendly / multi-day) The Philadelphia Film Society’s drive-in movies can accommodate up to 200 cars per screening. Holiday programming includes screenings of A Christmas Story, Dec. 5; Polar Express, Dec. 10 (to benefit Philabundance); Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dec. 12; Love Actually, Dec. 17, and Elf, Dec. 19. ($7-$12, screening to Polar Express is free with a donation, through Dec. 19, 6 p.m.,, map, add to calendar)

Find more of this week’s safe kid-friendly, outdoor and arts events.


“The condition of the city’s restaurant industry is poignantly expressed in the faces of our colleagues. There’s a heartbreaking, haunted quality in the eyes of many friends, workers, and owners alike: the look of hopelessness, of people who know they’ve been abandoned. I wish I could tell them they’re wrong. But that would be a lie.” — writes Francis Cretarola, the co-owner of Ristorante Le Virtú, about why it’s time to say goodbye to your favorite restaurants.

  1. Columnist Helen Ubiñas writes about an inspiring Philadelphia mother of nine children, ages 4 to 22, who works full time as an operating-room technician at Jefferson University Hospital, is launching an online clothing store, and was awarded the 2020 Inspiration Award from JEVS Human Services.

  2. Columnist Will Bunch writes about ways to fix the president’s absolute pardon power.

What we’re reading

  1. Philadelphia magazine looks at the write-in votes cast by Philly voters this year. A single person thought Gritty was ready to be the leader of the free world.

  2. How would you want Philadelphia to spend $1 million? For the first time in the city’s history, WHYY reports, officials are asking residents for their opinions on a spending plan and for project ideas.

  3. A team that celebrated the successful removal of a koala who entered an Australian home and latched onto its Christmas tree posted on Facebook: “Tis the season to be jolly, Koalalalala Lalalala.” CNN has the pictures and the story.

Your Daily Dose of | Letters to Santa

On Waldemire Drive in Northeast Philadelphia, there’s a big red mailbox sitting outside the home of Tina and Jim Moore. You can drop your notes to Santa inside and, as long as your note’s in the special mailbox by Dec. 19, you’ll get a note back from Santa by Christmas Eve. After seeing a similar one a few years back, Tina and Jim decided to set up their own mailbox to help cheer their COVID-19 blues, my colleague Gary Miles writes.