Vision and Hearing Screenings

Health Screenings and Immunizations > Vision and Hearing Screenings

Vision and hearing screening are essential to identifying students at risk for vision and hearing problems early. This reference provides guidance and considerations for modifying existing school based vision and hearing screening practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each school setting is unique and therefore, your school specific strategies may vary.
The role of the school nurse is to plan and advocate for resources to ensure the health and safety of students and staff when conducting vision and hearing screenings.

Key Considerations:

  • Collaborate with state and local education agencies and local school administrators to understand region-specific recommendations for vision and hearing screenings.
  • Collaborate with school administrators and follow the school’s policies and procedures for wearing masks, hand hygiene, grouping (cohorting, alternate schedules, staggered schedules) and transporting students to support physical distancing.
  • Determine appropriate additional personal protective equipment necessary for screeners to use when performing each screening procedure (e.g. gloves, gowns, face shields/goggles).
  • Consider a location for screenings that has an open space, has adequate ventilation, allows for physical distancing students and staff, and temperature controlled.
  • Planning for the following hand hygiene recommendations to be performed by students and staff.
    • Students wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before and after screening.
    • Screeners wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before screening, after any child contact, and regularly as needed.
    • If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Face masks are to be worn according to school policy by students and staff at all times for vision and hearing screenings.
  • Cleaning and disinfection: Equipment use
    • Hearing
      • Clean and disinfect otoscopes after each use.
      • Dispose of the otoscope specula after each use.
      • Consider ordering disposable covers for headsets and earphones. If disposable covers are not available, clean and disinfect headsets and earphones, including bands, after each test.
      • Disinfect headsets and earphones per manufacturer recommendations.
    • Vision
      • If using reusable screening equipment, disinfect all equipment after contact with each student (e.g. occluders, stereoacuity polarized glasses, instrument-based devices (e.g. vision screening equipment). Follow manufacturer recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting. Disposable eye cover patches for one-time use per student are preferred for distance acuity.
  • Cleaning and disinfection: Location
    • Clean and sanitize the physical location using EPA-registered disinfectants per the most recent school, state, and CDC recommendations.
    • Develop a schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfection, with special attention paid to high-touch areas such as doorknobs, table tops, and chairs.
  • Consider limiting the number of screeners, volunteers, or school staff to three or less. School policies regarding visitors and outside volunteers entering the school are to be followed.

NASN Resources

Vision and Eye Health Practice Topic

Other Resources

Considerations for Children’s vision Screening Programs During The COVID-19 Pandemic | Prevent Blindness

Pediatric Vision Screening Guidance During the COVID-19 Pandemic | American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

Best Practices Guidelines for Safely Conducting Hearing Testing During the COVID-19 Pandemic | National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA)