The Connecticut state statutes mandate that students be screened for potential barriers to education in the schools. The most common problems which can be detected and for which early intervention can be successful are vision, hearing and posture. The school nurse is responsible for conducting and overseeing these screenings in each school.
Vision screening for distance is mandated annually in kindergarten and grades 1, 3, 4 and 5. The National Society To Prevent Blindness has prepared the following list which may be used by parents and teachers to identify students with signs of possible vision problems:
- rubs eyes frequently; attempts to brush away blur
- has dizziness, headaches or nausea following close work
- is inattentive during chalk board lessons
- when looking at distant objects – holds body tense, contorts face in attempts to see things clearly, thrusts head forward, squints eyes excessively
- When reading – blinks excessively, holds book too far from face, holds book too close to face, makes frequent change in distance at which book is held, is inattentive during lesson, stops after brief period, shuts or covers one eye, tilts
- head to one side, tends to reverse words or syllables, tends to look cross-eyed, tends to lose place on page, or confuses words or letters.
Children observed to have any of the above signs should be referred to the school nurse for a vision screening regardless of age or grade placement.
Undetected hearing loss in students presents a potentially critical barrier to academic, social and vocational success. Early identification of hearing loss is crucial to that medical, technological and education intervention can be implemented to avoid or reduce the adverse impact of these hearing impairments. Hearing screening is also required by CT general statute as part of the required health assessment in kindergarten, grades 6 or 7 and grade 10 or 11. CT statutes required that audiometric screening occur annually in kindergarten and grades 1, 3, 4, and 5, which is the responsibility of the school nurse.
The school nurse is generally responsible for coordinating referral and follow-up for further diagnosis. This may be done via a letter to the parents. Teachers should also be notified of the screening results necessitating referral.
Postural screening consists of screening for scoliosis and kyphosis. Scoliosis is a lateral curve of the spine and kyphosis is a rounded curve in the upper spine when viewed from the side. Connecticut State statutes specify that postural screenings be done for boys in grade 8 or 9 and for girls in grades 5 and 7. While only 4 percent of young people 10-14 years of age have some signs of scoliosis, it is advisable to screen periodically between the ages of 10 – 15. Early detection enables early treatment and the prevention of severe deformity. Parents should be made aware of basic information about the screening process and the need for early diagnosis and treatment.
The school nurse is responsible for coordinating referral and follow up for further diagnosis.