Screening Rules During 2020-2021 School Year

Regarding Screening Rules During 2020-2021 School Year  

ANNOUNCEMENT:

Health and Safety Code, Chapter 36 and 25 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 37 require Public, Private, Parochial, and Denominational Schools (Schools) and Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Licensed Child Care Centers and Licensed Child Care Homes (Child Cares) to screen children for vision, hearing and spinal problems.

The Health Screening Group understands the challenges that schools and school districts are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although screening is still required for this school year, DSHS understands the need for flexibility and advises schools and school districts to assess their capacity to safely conduct screenings.  Schools and child cares with the capacity to screen should notify parents and follow best practices previous developed by the department (<hyperlink to our Best Practices document>).  Parents who choose not to participate at this time may decline screenings.

DSHS recommends schools notify the parents of children who have missed or will miss a screening. This notification should inform parents of the missed screening and encourage them to ask for screenings at their child’s next well-child appointment with their medical provider. If a parent suspects their child has a vision, hearing, or spinal problem they should notify the school nurse or school administration for assistance in obtaining a screening. The Health Screening Group has developed sample letters for parents for vision and hearing screening (below) and spinal screening (below) that schools may use.

The Child Health Reporting System (CHRS) opens for 2020-2021 reporting on January 15 and closes June 30.  School districts and child cares who conducted screenings should enter their screening results as usual.  The schools and child cares who were unable to screen children this year due to COVID-19 should still report in CHRS by entering zeroes in the number fields.  Doing this indicates the school districts and child cares have reported their data and will not appear on the “Did Not Report” list.

Instructions for adding zeroes are located under “Announcements” on our website located at: www.dshs.texas.gov/vhs .  

Please contact the Vision, Hearing and Spinal Screening Program at vhssprogram@dshs.texas.gov if you have questions or concerns.
 

Draft Letter for Students Who Have Missed or Will Miss a Vision or Hearing Screening (5th grade reading level):

 

Dear Parent/Guardian:  

Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, your child has not received a vision or hearing screening. Vision and hearing problems can affect a child’s wellbeing and their ability to learn.   

The Department of State Health Services encourages parents to take their children to a medical provider for well child exams. During these appointments you can ask for screenings. If your child is screened, we encourage you to send us the results of those screens for our records.  
Signs of a possible vision problem include:   

  • Squinting
  • Tilting the head
  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Constant eye rubbing
  • Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes

Signs of a possible hearing problem include:   

  • Your child wants volumes louder than other members of the family
  • Your child often says “What?”
  • It seems like your child isn’t listening
  • Your child seems to hear fine sometimes and not others

If you think your child has a vision or hearing problem, please contact the school nurse. Discuss your concerns with them right away.

 

Sincerely,

   

Draft Letter for Students Who Have Missed or Will Miss a Spinal Screening (7th grade reading level):

 

Dear Parent/Guardian:  

Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, your child has not received a spinal screening. Spinal screening can detect abnormal spinal curvatures at an early stage. Early detection is important for controlling spinal deformities.

The Department of State Health Services encourages parents to take their children to a medical provider for well child exams. During these appointments you can ask for your child to receive a spinal screening. If your child is screened, we encourage you to send us the results of the screen for our records.     

Signs your child may have an abnormal spinal curvature:

 

  • Uneven shoulders or hips
  • Ribs that are prominent or stick out in one area
  • Muscles that are prominent in the lower back or bulge on one side  

If you think your child has an abnormal spinal curvature, please contact the school nurse. Discuss your concerns with them.

 

Sincerely,

   

 

Schools should follow these guidelines for students to obtain visionhearing and spinal screenings that are receiving in person or online instructions.  

  • Send a letter to parents notifying them in advance that screenings will be conducted on designated dates
  • Request parent to please bring student receiving online instructions to the school so screenings may be performed in accordance with the statutes
  • In lieu of the screening(s) provided by the school:
    1. parents or guardians may provide screening record signed by a licensed professional
    2. parents or guardians may provide signed statement that the vision, hearing or spinal screening conflicts with the tenets and practices of a church or religious denomination of which the affiant is an adherent or member

 

SUBJECT: INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING VISION, HEARING AND SPINAL SCREENING ANNUAL REPORTS FOR FACILITIES THAT WERE UNABLE TO SCREEN FOR THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR (ADDING ZEROES).

  If you have any questions, please email VHSSprogram@dshs.texas.gov.