Core Essential Strategies: Q & A with Bill Patterson, MPA, RN

18-Oct-2021

Bill Patterson, MPA, RN, is a state school nurse consultant for the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and a proud graduate of Moanalua High School. We asked Bill Patterson to speak to the importance of staying home when sick as a core essential strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Below is a Q&A.

​We asked Bill Patterson to speak to the importance of staying home when sick as a core essential strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Below is a Q&A. 

Bill Patterson, MPA, RN, is a state school nurse consultant for the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and a proud graduate of Moanalua High School. Prior to joining HIDOE, Bill worked for the Hawai‘i State Department of Health as a supervisor of the Children with Special Health Needs Program and as a field Public Health Nurse. 

Why is staying at home when sick an essential strategy?

Staying home when you are sick will limit the spread of germs (e.g., virus, bacteria) to others in school and the community. If someone is infected with SARS-CoV-2 (virus) and stays home separated from others, then theoretically no one else will get sick from that infected individual thus ceasing the spread of the virus causing the COVID-19 disease. The virus will run its course with the infected individual and pau (i.e., ends there). If every sick individual did this, there would be less circulation of the virus in schools and the surrounding community.

Why do we need to be vigilant about this? 

Everyone needs to take responsibility for their actions to mitigate/lessen the possibility of getting infected and spreading it to others. This is the only way we will be able to overcome this pandemic. Implement the core essential strategies as put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our State of Hawai‘i Department of Health: Get vaccinated (if eligible), stay home when you are sick, correctly and consistently wear a mask, and practice good hand hygiene. Schools should implement additional mitigation strategies including cohorting, improved ventilation, physical distancing, screening testing, and cleaning and disinfection to the greatest extent possible.

What are some things to look out for? 

Includes, but not limited to: fever (greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) or hot to the touch, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue/malaise, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste and/or smell (anosmia), congestion or runny nose, nausea and/or vomiting, and diarrhea. Many of these signs and symptoms are common with other illnesses or conditions (e.g., allergies, asthma, common cold, influenza or flu) but erring on the side of caution and staying home when sick will help to limit the spread of the germs to others.

What can we do about it? 

Be proactive and diligent. Complete your daily wellness check. Families should keep their children home when they are not feeling well or sick. School personnel need to stay home as well when sick. All symptomatic individuals should get tested to help with contact tracing and prevent further spread in schools if it is COVID-19.

Additionally, as this is a public health issue, families and school personnel should work together with their school leadership on implementing and enforcing the core strategies and additional layered mitigation strategies. Identify key leads to address the general school health interventions and additional duties necessary to decrease the possibility of an outbreak or cluster of cases in your school.




Through public health nursing, Bill Patterson first encountered school health and school nursing issues which became his “cause” or passion. Professionally, Bill has over 25 years of experience in the clinical/medical and nursing fields and has been a contributor/author/editor to the Legal Resource for School Health Services and the School Nurse Resource Manual – Evidence Based Guide to Practice. Bill is an active member of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and the National Association of State School Nurse Consultants (NASSNC), since 2005 and 2006 respectively.




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