Screenings are a secondary level of prevention, and when performed in schools, provide a means to identify students who may have a condition that affects their ability to learn. The District or Charter School may choose to perform mass or individual screenings, led by a school nurse, to improve the health and well-being of their students. Parents should always be notified in advance of all screenings. Follow-up with screening results and assistance to access care is a school nurse core function.
The Utah Department of Health provides the following guidelines for school screenings:
53G-9-402(1) (a) Each local school board shall implement rules as prescribed by the Department of Health for vision, dental, abnormal spinal curvature, and hearing examinations of students attending the district's schools.
A child's ability to see greatly impacts his or her ability to learn. A school vision screening program is a cost effective approach that plays a vital role in the early identification of serious vision problems that might negatively affect the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development of the individual student. Several vision problems if not corrected before the age of nine may lead to permanent blindness in one or both eyes.
A new law passed in 2019 (UCA 53G-9-404) requires all public schools screen the vision on students in grades pre-K, kindergarten, 1, 3, 5, 7 or 8, and 9 or 10.
Although vision screening is crucial in identifying children with visual problems, it is important for parents to understand that school vision screening not a substitute for a complete eye exam and vision evaluation by an eye care professional.
Approved Outside Entities
Schools without a school nurse may choose to have an outside entity assist with vision screening. The outside entity must be approved by the Utah Department of Health before they can provide this service.
If an outside entities is wanting to become approved please complete this application:
Current approved outside entities:
State of Utah School Vision Screening Policy may be downloaded.
New forms were developed as part of the new statute:
- Vision Certificate for School Entry
- Vision Referral to Eye Care Professional
- Vision Symptoms Questionnaire
- Sample Vision Opt-Out Form
- Annual Vision Screening Report
Links to Vision Modules
Per statute, online training modules have been developed to assist those providing this service to schools.
Who is this training for? New school nurses, DVPP, seasoned school nurses who want to ensure they are complying with new state requirements
Who is this training for? Anyone who will volunteer or assist with a tier 1 vision screening (including outside entities)
Who is this training for? School nurses only
Who is this training for? Outside entities approved to assist with vision screening in Utah
Vision Screening Questions Contact:
State School Nurse Consultant (UDOH), (801) 538-6814
The school nurse may contact a local dentist to conduct oral health screenings, apply sealants and provide restorative care. Several Oral Health in school programs have been approved through UDOH Oral Health Program. Dental health education is also important and can be done by the school nurse, a dental hygienist or students in a dental hygiene program. February is National Dental Health month. For information on in school programs and resources contact the UDOH Oral Health Program at (801) 273-2995
Hearing screenings may be conducted by a school nurses or school audiologist. Check with your LEA/charter school policy on health screenings. For questions please contact the USOE Education Specialist at 801-538-7726.
Height and Weight
The EPICC Program partners with school nurses, school districts, and local health departments to conduct a bi-annual height and weight measurement project. This project enables UDOH to track the prevalence of overweight and obesity among elementary school students statewide. In 2014, 20.9% of students were at an unhealthy weight. The rate did not change between 2006 and 2014. Access the Childhood Overweight in Utah, 2014 report (PDF) to learn more about the project, rates of overweight by grade and sex, the effects of childhood overweight and obesity, and strategies to prevent childhood obesity.
Recent studies have cast controversy on the effectiveness of routine scoliosis screening in the school setting. Previous studies have both supported and discouraged routine screening. Districts are given the option to perform hands-on scoliosis screening or make available, parent screening instructions to all students in 5-8th grades annually. School nurses oversee the spinal curvature screening. Physical education teachers can help with the initial screening process after training by a school nurse or medical professional, on the use of a scoliometer, a tool used to help determine the severity of spinal curvature. Example of school cover letter for parent information on Scoliosis screening.
Choose one of the following examples to be attached to a cover letter: