The Unsung Hero

School Nurse Provides Guiding Light Through Covid


Photo by Mr. Insep Lee

Nurse Becky taking care of a student.

Lydia Ryu, Justin Park, and Jade Lee

A restless hero for injured kids at work, a caring mom for a little daughter at home: ten doppelgangers are not even close to being enough for Nurse Becky to carry out all her tasks she faces day-to-day. Her daily routines are greatly overwhelmed by her work for ensuring safety on campus – especially during the era of a global pandemic. Other than caring for the student population, what more is going on with her everyday life? Through this interview, you will get a peek on her side that you weren’t able to easily see just from the nurse’s office. 

How did you deal with COVID-19 at DIS?

At the very beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t have a lot of information. The only details we received were from the Office of Education. Because their documents and announcements were all written in Korean, I had to translate all those forms and letters — and some were over 100 pages. Because our school is an international school that has a different curriculum compared to other Korean schools, that doubled the work. Since it was impossible to finish it all by myself, faculty members in the main office and I worked together.

I also had to put a lot of effort into the school meetings, discussing how our policy can make our campus a safer place. At the same time, the nurse’s office was also a big factor to consider because it is a place for all students – those who didn’t have any symptoms also needed my care. That’s why we had to separate the room between the health office and the quarantine room.

So, handling both the quarantine room and the nurse’s office simultaneously while translating the letters and receiving phone calls drained me. On top of that, I had to take care of the students who were coming for symptoms that were unrelated to COVID-19, like stomachaches and injury. All of this made me go through busy days.

Can you tell me how many hours you work in a week or your longest work ever?

That day was when we had a confirmed case on our campus. I think I left school at around 10:30 or 11 o’clock PM. Because the only way of communication was through me, the Office of Education contacted me for a lot of information that we had to deal with at our school. That was the longest, and probably the toughest day. But these days, I think it’s better because we’re done with creating the policies. I think we are good, unless we have another case.

I want to ask you about the most memorable thing or experience as a nurse in this school.

Back in the days before COVID, I had two boys who had big injuries from basketball and had to provide them with some first-aid treatments and refer them to the clinic. It was very touching when they came back to say sincere thank you, and when their parents also called me again to say so.

When I see students who I took care of are doing better from the first-aid, I feel greatly accomplished. Also, talking with little kids — of course, I still get some energy from the big kids too — and having good conversations always gives me energy.

Since you are really busy these days, how are you managing this stress? Do  you have any hobbies to relieve stress?

Since I had my five-year-old daughter, I lost a lot of my hobbies. Sometimes, taking care of my daughter is also part of the stress – it’s like a different type of stress. But at the same time, taking care of my family also relieves me. Just having coffee time with fellow staff members in our school can help me. 

Every time I get stressed out, I try my best to let it go. I also recently started doing some exercise— hopefully it will work out. Sometimes, I don’t feel like exercising is releasing my stress, but actually is making more stress. But hopefully, if I do it for the long term, I am sure it will bring me some good energy. So far, so good.

Speaking about your daughter, how do you feel about your daughter losing a big chunk of her childhood to the pandemic?

I feel really bad. Fortunately, she faced COVID after she already learned her language. These days, a lot of kids in daycare have been wearing masks, and they have a very hard time doing the same. It is good that my daughter was born a little before the pandemic, but since she grew up in these times, I noticed that whenever she goes out and sees a hand sanitizer, she feels overly pressured to use it. I think it is a good thing that she always washes her hands whenever she gets back home, but also sometimes I feel like that’s too much. And whenever she has her mask off, she feels like she has to do something to cover her mouth and nose. Even though it is not a fire drill, she keeps on putting her hands on her mouth and nose.

I also feel bad because many activities are limited at school – events such as family sports day are all gone, which is really sad. Because of the pandemic, I also limited traveling with my family too. So, I think these are what I feel bad about kids of her age. Also, your age too. I really hope you can enjoy your campus life.

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

I don’t think I really knew that I was going to be a nurse until I chose my major. I knew I wanted to become a teacher, or just work with kids. After I graduated from college, I got an internship at a Korean school as a school nurse, gathering precious experience. During my stay, I realized that this was the right path for me to take.

Then, I heard that there was an international school in Daegu. That’s how I ended up being a school nurse here. I did know I was going to be a nurse, but when I actually got to experience this job, I think I was more assured that I wanted to do this.

The same goes for you guys, too: it is hard to clearly decide on your dream, and you don’t know if it is right or not. And that’s okay. So I recommend you to actually experience it; that will let you know if you actually like it. Try different things. ”

— Nurse Becky on career paths.


Translating the letters, receiving phone calls, taking care of students, creating school regulations, and making changes to the facility – as expected, Nurse Becky is our main guardian against the gigantic of the pandemic. Still, her decision to become a nurse allowed her to cherish meaningful moments with the students at DIS. Don’t forget to thank her every time when you see her passing by!