Kansas lawmakers push for more oversight for vision screening in K-12 schools

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers are pushing for more oversight to require eye checks in schools. The Kansas senate held a hearing for a bill on Monday.

While some students currently have their eyesight checked regularly, lawmakers are trying to prevent any setbacks in getting students the proper vision screenings they need.

Senator Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, who chairs the state’s senate Education Committee, brought up certain shortcomings that have occurred due to lack of proper oversight in the vision screening process, citing findings discussed during a 2017 vision summit in Topeka.

“They realized that the guidelines needed to be updated and that evidence-based practices regarding vision screenings needed significant change,” Baumgardner said.

Senate Bill 62 would create an eight-member commission to oversee the requirements of keeping vision screenings up to date. The commission would provide standardized vision screening referral letters, so that school districts can send it out to the parents of children that are experiencing vision issues. The members will also work with schools to provide free or low-cost eye exams or glasses for children.

The bill would also require annual vision screenings for kindergarten, first, second, and third grade, along with annual screenings for fifth, seventh, and tenth grade.

“It’s all about if a student can’t read, they can’t see, they’re not going to do well in school. So, it’s helping catch those cases early on,” said Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa.

Lawmakers said some schools were found having trouble screening eyesight in children, due to not having the proper tools they need.

This bill will make sure school districts are given up-to-date tools to conduct the screenings. No final action has been taken on the bill yet.

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