Screenings are a secondary level of prevention, and when performed in schools, provide a means to identify students who may have a condition that affects their ability to learn. The District or Charter School may choose to perform mass or individual screenings, led by a school nurse, to improve the health and well-being of their students. Parents should always be notified in advance of all screenings. Follow-up with screening results and assistance to access care is a school nurse core function.
The Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides the following guidelines for school screenings: 53G-9-402(1) (a) Each local school board shall implement rules as prescribed by the Department of Health and Human Services for vision, dental, abnormal spinal curvature, and hearing examinations of students attending the district's schools.
A child's ability to see greatly impacts his or her ability to learn. A school vision screening program is a cost effective approach that plays a vital role in the early identification of serious vision problems that might negatively affect the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development of the individual student. Several vision problems if not corrected before the age of nine may lead to permanent blindness in one or both eyes.
A law passed in 2019 (UCA 53G-9-404) requires all public schools screen the vision on students in grades pre-K, kindergarten, 1, 3, 5, 7 or 8, and 9 or 10.
Although vision screening is crucial in identifying children with visual problems, it is important for parents to understand that school vision screening not a substitute for a complete eye exam and vision evaluation by an eye care professional.
The school nurse may contact a local dentist to conduct oral health screenings, apply sealants and provide restorative care. Several Oral Health in school programs have been approved through DHHS Oral Health Program. Dental health education is also important and can be done by the school nurse, a dental hygienist or students in a dental hygiene program. February is National Dental Health month. For information on in school programs and resources contact the DHHS Oral Health Program at (801) 273-2995
Hearing screenings may be conducted by a school nurses or school audiologist. Check with your LEA/charter school policy on health screenings. For questions please contact the USBE Education Specialist at 801-538-7726.
Height and Weight
The HEAL Program partners with school nurses, school districts, and local health departments to conduct a bi-annual height and weight measurement project. This project enables DHHS to track the prevalence of overweight and obesity among elementary school students statewide. In 2014, 20.9% of students were at an unhealthy weight. The rate did not change between 2006 and 2014. Access the Childhood Overweight in Utah, 2014 report (PDF) to learn more about the project, rates of overweight by grade and sex, the effects of childhood overweight and obesity, and strategies to prevent childhood obesity.
Recent studies have cast controversy on the effectiveness of routine scoliosis screening in the school setting. Previous studies have both supported and discouraged routine screening. Districts are given the option to perform hands-on scoliosis screening or make available parent screening instructions to all students in 5-8th grades annually. School nurses oversee the spinal curvature screening. Physical education teachers can help with the initial screening process after training by a school nurse or medical professional, on the use of a scoliometer, a tool used to help determine the severity of spinal curvature.
Utah School Health Workload Report
Each year we are asked to collect data statewide for use in the Utah Department of Health and Human Services and the National Association of School Nurses. Those districts or charter schools that receive matching funds for school nurses are required to complete this annually. All schools in Utah are asked to submit this data in May.
With the data that is collected this annual report is compiled with Utah-specific information. While many people usually want to know the nurse-to--student ratios for each school, this information is not the most accurate way to distribute nursing services. Workload and acuity should be taken into account when making school nurse assignments.
- 2023 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
- 2023 Nursing Services handout
- 2022 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
- 2022 Nursing Services handout
- 2021 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
- 2021 Nursing Services handout
- 2020 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
- 2020 Nursing Services handout
- 2019 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
- 2018 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
- 2017 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
- 2016 Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools
School Height and Weight Study
The HEAL Program partners with school nurses, school districts, and local health departments to conduct a bi-annual height and weight measurement project. This project enables DHHS to track the prevalence of overweight and obesity among elementary school students statewide. In 2014, 20.9% of students were at an unhealthy weight. The rate did not change between 2006 and 2014. Access the Childhood Overweight in Utah, 2018 report (PDF) to learn more about the project, rates of overweight by grade and sex, the effects of childhood overweight and obesity, and strategies to prevent childhood obesity.
- Childhood Overweight and Obesity in Utah, 2018
- Childhood Overweight in Utah, 2016
- Childhood Overweight in Utah, 2014
Local Childhood Obesity Rates
From 2011 - 2014, school nurses and local health department staff in Utah County, Wasatch County, Weber County, and in 2016 state wide, collected height and weight data for elementary school students to determine the rates of overweight and obesity in their respective districts. In 2018, Davis County collected height and weight data for elementary school students. The HEAL Program produced the following reports with local and state level rates:
- Childhood Overweight in Weber School District, 2011
- Childhood Overweight in Utah County, 2012
- Childhood Overweight in Wasatch County, 2012
- Childhood Overweight in Ogden School District, 2014
- Childhood Overweight in Davis County, 2018
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HEADS UP to schools: Know Your Concussion ABC's is a flexible set of materials, developed for professionals working with grades K-12, will help identify and respond to concussions in an array of school settings.
Each eligible school can receive up to four FREE EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto-Injectors in the form of two EpiPen 2-Pak® cartons, two EpiPen Jr 2-Pak® cartons, or one 2-Pak of each kind.
- Colorado Kids with Diabetes
- Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel (2022)
- American Diabetes Association
- Primary Children's Guidelines for Diabetes Management in the School Setting (2023)
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Communicable Disease information
- EpiPen 4 Schools
- Head Lice
- Immunization Resources
- Infectious Disease Reporting- (Epidemiology)
- Prescription Assistance Programs for Patients with Asthma
- Primary Children's Hospital
- Utah Department of Health and Human Services
- Utah Food Allergy Network
- Utah School Nurse Association
- Utah State Board of Education
- Sight for students
- Position statements
- Publications (NASN School Nurse, and Journal of School Nursing)