A new Oregon law requires all students under the age of seven to complete a vision screening before entering into a new school.
Springfield school district is looking at enrolling between 800 and 1000 new kindergarteners in a little more than a month. According to spokesperson Devon Ashbridge, they will all have to go through a vision screening.
Ashbridge: “It can take years for a family to identify some vision related issues and those students will struggle until that’s identified. And if they start out behind because of that it’s very difficult for them to catch up so this is a way to make sure that we aren’t setting up students and kids up for failure by not accommodating some of their physical needs.”
Most districts, including Springfield, will be relying on Lions Club volunteers to carry out the screenings. Jody O’Mara is the superintendent for Mapleton Schools, she plans to get all 165 of her students screened.
O’Mara: “We get local lions club members to come and it takes a day or a day and half to do our entire school district and they will be coming in November which allows us to meet the 120 day timeline to get all of our students to have a vision screening.”
At the Lane County Fair, Brad King, the Mobile Health Screening Kit Coordinator for the Oregon Lions Club, administers a vision test to a fair-goer. King is helping to organize the gargantuan task of making sure that almost every school district in the state gets a visit from the big green truck, or the mobile screening office. He says that training volunteers on the screening device only takes about 5 minutes.
King: “It’s phenomenal. And it screens kids for so much more than we could with our old manual method that we’re using on the adults on the truck here today.”
King says once they’re on site at a school, they can handle up to 200 screenings per hour. And while that seems like a high rate, The Oregon Lions Club plans to screen 114 thousand students between mid-August and winter break. The volunteer organization was a main sponsor of the legislation.
King: “We were an advocate for House Bill 3000, we helped draft the legislation. The foundation staff actually helped write the rules for how it’s implemented as an Oregon administrative rule.”
Lions Club and the Casey Eye Institute are also partnering to offer free vision tests around Lane County. The first round of free screenings is taking place Saturday August 2nd at the Bethel, Springfield and Downtown Eugene Libraries.