Mandatory Screenings

School nurses follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s requirements for screening of children for growth, hearing, vision, and postural issues.

Vision and Hearing Screening

Early detection of vision and hearing issues are essential, because many vision and hearing deficits can be corrected if they are identified in a timely fashion. Vision and hearing issues can impact a child’s ability to learn in many ways. Poor vision can affect a child’s gross motor development, and hearing issues may affect speech. 

According to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, section 57, students require vision screening, “in the year of school entry, annually through grade 5, once in grades 6 through 8, and once in grades 9-12”. Students require hearing screenings “in the year of school entry, annually through grade 3, once in grades 6 through 8, and once in grades 9 through 12”.

Therefore, New Bedford Public Schools will perform vision screenings on students in grades K-5, grade 7 and grade 10. Hearing screenings are done on students in grades K-3, grade 7 and grade 10.

If you have any concerns, at any time, about your child’s hearing or vision, please contact your child’s school nurse for assistance.

Parents/Guardians are always notified if their children do not pass the vision and/or hearing screens at school, and nurses can assist you with further referrals and plans for follow-up of abnormal findings.

Please notify your child’s school nurse if you do not wish for them to participate in this screening program.

Postural Screening

The purpose of postural screening is to identify early signs of spinal problems. Most scoliosis and other spinal issues can be easily treated if they are detected early. Parents are notified prior to screening so that children are dressed appropriately. Girls and boys are screened separately, and privacy is respected at all times. It is requested that girls wear bathing suit tops under their clothes, a halter top or a sports bra, on the day of the school screening, as this type of clothing facilitates better examination of the back.

Postural screening is done in grades 5-9.

Any suspicious findings are reported to parents/guardians, and, if necessary, assistance with obtaining a follow-up evaluation by a physician is given.

If you do not want your child screened for postural issues, please contact your school nurse.

Growth and Development Screenings

Assessment of a child’s growth and development is an important part of school wide screening programs. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Comprehensive School Health Manual:

“Poor growth patterns may result from systemic disorders (e.g., malnutrition, intestinal conditions), psychosocial conditions, congenital disorders (e.g., Turner’s syndrome, intrauterine growth retardation), or conditions of the endocrine system (e.g., hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency). Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can result in both serious long-term health problems and poor school performance. Children and adolescents who are overweight may be at a greater risk for serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

In accordance with Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71 section 57, New Bedford Public Schools will screen students in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10 for growth related issues.

Parents will be notified prior to the screening. If you do not wish to have your child screened, please contact your child’s school nurse.

Other Screenings

School nurses also conduct periodic dental screenings to assess for dental decay in children, and head checks on an as needed basis for head lice.