Today was a big day. Mass vision and hearing screenings for hundreds of students at our school. The State of Texas mandates that all Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade students be screened for vision and hearing each Fall. Pulling this off takes planning and lots of help. The “Vision and Hearing Team” in our school district consists of TWO nurses. That’s right, two – for over 100 schools. This “team” comes on their scheduled day to help the school nurse (me) screen hundreds of children. I enlisted two additional helpers who volunteered their time out of the kindness of their hearts: first my mother, a retired school nurse in our school district, and second her good friend, also a retired school nurse! In the photo above, my mom is screening my son aka her grandson – how awesome is that!? I also had the help of two amazing parents at our incredible school. They volunteered their day to call classrooms, wrangle and shush kids, transcribe results, and direct traffic in the library.
I went through the planning phase several days before, with all that prep culminating in a workable schedule for today. Students aren’t just sitting in their homeroom class all day long – they are going places! When I planned screening times for each grade level, I had to look at various schedules and AVOID screening during: Recess, Lunch, PE, Art, Music, Computers, and nap time (for the little ones). Whew!
Class by class, students were herded in and given instructions.
Many of us probably remember having our vision tested as kids. This chart has been around for over 150 years. The kids are instructed to point in the direction the “legs” of the E are pointing. They don’t have to know left from right, E from M or W, and it doesn’t require any talking – only pointing. Even 4-year-olds can do it.
You also probably all remember the hearing test. This audiometer is a dinosaur. There are updated versions – digital ones also that the team brought with them, but this is my district-issued machine. I am actually quite fond of it. The students are instructed to “Raise your hand when you hear the beep” and it’s a very simple test. Some obstacles to this test are: any noise in the room (hmmm it’s not challenging at all to keep dozens of children quiet when they’re standing in line with nothing to do…); cold symptoms like a stuffy nose – this causes fluid to back up into the ears and they have temporary hearing loss; girls with hairbands, bows, earrings, and glasses (I had a few students wearing all of these things at once) – the headphones won’t fit snug on their heads or will actually hurt.
I’m happy to say that this massive undertaking was a success – thanks to all the help I had. Speaking of help, the office staff had to “play nurse” all day because I was unavailable. They rose to the challenge of taking care of 48 students who were sent to the clinic today for things like possible pinkeye, a punch to the nose, breathing trouble, groin pain among many other. They told me they don’t know how I do it every day. I know they already appreciate me so much, but it’s days like these that it becomes clear what a “team effort” really is.