As schools, Head Start/Early Head Start, and early care and education programs reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, practices that occurred routinely for decades must be reconsidered and redesigned to prevent the spread of the virus among children and staff, and ultimately, the community. Vision screening is one of many services that meet critical needs of children and is an essential service to eliminate poor vision and eye health problems as a barrier to academic and classroom success. Fortunately, vision screeners can employ strategies to manage the risk of COVID-19 exposure and potential transmission during vision screening.
The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health has published Vision Screening Considerations During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic for Schools, Head Start and Early Care and Education Programs. This document provides a summary of currently available resources that vision screeners and school nurses can consult as they formulate independent judgment. This document is not intended to provide clinical standards or guidelines. Vision screeners and school nurses are responsible for complying with applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, ordinances, executive orders, policies, and any other applicable sources of authority, including any applicable standards of practice.
The science of COVID-19 is evolving rapidly. This document is dynamic and will be updated with the emergence of new knowledge and practices in risk management and reduction. It is important to be familiar with and closely follow all school district and local guidelines as well as federal and state infection-control recommendations. Conducting vision screening in school and community settings while adhering to physical distancing requirements will be challenging. We stress the importance of adhering to evidence-based vision screening procedures. Using modified vision screening practices without evidence may result in inappropriate referrals to eye care providers, causing children and parents/guardians unnecessary exposure to medical settings during a pandemic. Conversely, not adhering to evidence-based practices may miss a vision or eye health disorder and a proper referral to eye care.