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Duties of a school district's nursing team are doubly important during a pandemic era

Between administering COVID-19 tests and contact tracing after an exposure, North Marion School District Nurse Agnes Albert has had quite a bit of extra work since school resumed this past fall.COURTESY PHOTO: NMSD - Gina with lice comb: School District Nurse Gina Byers grins as she holds up a lice comb

She needed help, so the school district created a second nurse position. However, despite the great environment and hours, it takes a particular person to leave a glossy clinic or hospital to work in K-12. Fortunately, Albert thought she knew one. She remembered working with Gina Byers at The Oregon Clinic in Tualatin.

"I did pursue her from our previous employer because I knew that she was really strong as a nurse, but also really kind, with a gentle character," Albert says.

When Albert asked Byers to join her as a third School District Nurse (Nurse Sarah Cutsforth works remotely one day per week), Byers said that she hesitated. She had been happily working at The Oregon Clinic for more than six years. But Albert told her about North Marion's friendly people and warm environment.

"Agnes said, 'All I ask is that you pray about it,' and I prayed about it and I gave it more time, and, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the right thing," says Byers, who lives in Tualatin with her family.

That's how North Marion landed the wonderful School District Nurse Byers, who started Nov. 1. She helps students all over campus but is stationed in the Primary School in the same office as Albert.

"We love having Gina on staff," Primary School Principal Allison Hunt says. "She brings such great, positive energy to the building. She's wonderful with our students and families, is ready to jump in to support in any way she can, and is so knowledgeable. I can really tell that she and Agnes make a great team!"

A Stand-Out

After only a few months in her new role, Byers is already missed at her previous workplace.

"We miss her so much, but those kids are so lucky to have her — and so is everyone in North Marion — because she's so awesome," says Leah Bachhuber, a Registered Nurse at The Oregon Clinic. "She can make anyone feel comfortable immediately. I've met a lot of amazing nurses, but she has this way with people that is unique and that truly makes her stand out to me."

Byers has worked as a nurse since 2012 and has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Portland, completing her prerequisites at Portland Community College. A local lady, Byers was also born in what's now the Adidas building in Portland but was a Kaiser hospital, and she has lived in Oregon her whole life. Byers was homeschooled, using curricular materials from Illinois-based Christian Liberty Academy to earn a diploma.

Byers entered the workforce in medical coding (and massage therapy), but she struggled to find the role that she wanted, and her sister, who was already a nurse, suggested nursing. She told her it'd still be a caring profession, which Byers prefers, but with higher pay.

Byers took the risk, earning her degree at the age of 40. This August will mark her 10th year in the field. The move changed not only her profession but her personal life. While studying nursing, she met her husband, Bob, currently a Regional Credit Manager for a plumbing supply company. The two wedded and had a son, Alex, who is now almost 8 years old and attends a school in Sherwood, where the family previously lived.

A Little More About Byers

In her spare time, Byers studies Spanish via Duo Lingo, teaches Sunday school at the Lutheran Church in Sherwood, kayaks with her family, and reads books including the Anne of Green Gables series, a childhood favorite that she is revisiting.

The nursing job is a long-term role, and Byers hopes to stay in it for many years to come.

"That's my plan as long as there is a position," she says.

Albert is happy with the new hire.

"She's catching on really fast and has good judgment," Albert noted. "I believe she is a great fit. I'm so grateful to have help."

To share stories about the North Marion School District, email Jillian Daley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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