The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused a pause in Lions Children’s Vision Screening activities
around the nation. Schools, day care centers, nursery schools, places of worship and all locations
in which children have gathered and been available for screening have paused their activities, so
our normal vision screening programs have also paused. Lions around the nation have sought
guidance on how best to resume this valuable service as the nation and schools begin to open up.
The Lions KidSight USA Foundation board of directors has had detailed discussions on this very topic. We feel that the policies Lions implement in the resuming of screening services should be directed toward protecting the health and safety of the children we screen as well as that of the Lions performing the screening.
The Lions KidSight USA Foundation is offering the following advice and the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation, in our own KidSight program, will look to the KidSight USA Foundation for guidance as we go through the next several months of phased re-opening.
First and foremost, it is important that Lions follow the local, State and National guidelines on social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
We also suggest you check out the CDC website regularly for any updates and additional information. The following is a link to the CDC “opening guidelines for schools”. We believe you should familiarize yourself with these guidelines so you may have productive conversations with your local school administrators. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schoolsfaq.html
We also suggest you familiarize yourself with the guidelines of the US Travel Association found by following this link : https://www.ustravel.org/toolkit/industryguidance-promoting-health-and-safety-all-travelers
While some of these guidelines will not be directly applicable to children’s vision screening, the general principles are important to understand. Having a working knowledge of these principles will assist you in speaking with your local officials and administrators. Check these links often for any updates or changes published by the agencies.
Once you are familiar with these concepts, LKSUSAF strongly suggests you have a special meeting of your club to discuss plans to resume your vision screening program.
The vision screening chairperson should reach out to the local school administrators and directors of the locations at which you screen and discuss with them restarting at the earliest time possible. Emphasize the safety policies and procedures you will be following as well as the need to not allow children with visual risk factors to be undetected. We suggest not waiting for the school or agency to reach out to you. We suggest contacting them sometime in August or September, or even earlier so as the locations begin to open up you are part of their planning.
Special procedures for Lions to consider
1. The agency for which you screen may require you to wear PPE such as a mask or face shield. The LKSUSAF board has found that a face shield may be more practical in that it can be easily cleaned and disinfected after each use. The cost is controlled as the face shield is reusable. It provides a safe barrier between the child and agency staff and the Lions at the screening. Face shields can be purchased from various locations. We are investigating offering them through the Lions KidSight USA on-line store. If this is a possibility we will let everyone know.
2. Some Lions have asked about the need to wear gloves during a screening. Of course, Lions should follow local guidelines and proper hand hygiene. Guidance can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html. However, ideally, Lions will not be touching the children so gloves should not be necessary. If you are asked to wear gloves the type used by food service personnel should be adequate.
3. It is possible that local agencies and states may require anyone entering the schools to be tested for COVID-19, or any other condition. Please follow all local guidelines, rules and regulations in this matter.
4. Limit the number of Lions performing the screening to no more than 3. The agencies/schools will most likely want to minimize the number of non-employees on site.
5. Do not touch the children. Instrument-based vision screening devices can be used without making contact with the child being screened.
6. If you give out stickers give the sheets of stickers to the school staff for them to give to the children.
7. Completely clean and disinfect the screening device between each device operator and after each screening event. Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations on equipment cleaning provided in the device manual (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.). a. Plusoptix states that you should use either Clorox Healthcare Bleach Wipes, Bacillo 30 Tissues, or Teccare Control Tissues. No other solutions are advisable. b. Hillrom recommends cleaning the Welch Allen Spot Vision Screener with 70% isopropyl alcohol (also known as isopropanol) or 10% chlorine bleach solution.
8. If any Lion is an “at risk” individual they may want to consider not participating in the actual “on site” event. They may do the organization, data management and equipment maintenance. This, of course, is a personal decision. However, caution should be the rule.
9. If necessary, consider conducting the screening in non-traditional times to allow younger members who may not be “at risk” to do the event. Perhaps in the late afternoon/early evening on a week day or even on a Saturday so Lions who are working can screen the children.
10. Some Lions have already been doing a “drive through” screening event. In this case the child to be screened would be driven up to screeners who will aim the device through an open window with the child in position to be screened. Caution – while this may be effective in many cases, screeners should ensure that there is an overhead, tent or other method to eliminate ambient daylight so the screening location is dark enough.
In summary, the COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in many special challenges for Lions as they look to restart children’s vision screening programs in their communities. While these challenges may, at first, seem daunting, if they are approached logically, in a step by step fashion they can be overcome. The key points of this document are to be proactive in keeping communications open between the Lions and the schools/agencies for which you screen. Familiarize yourself with, and follow all local laws, regulations and guidelines as you restart your programs. Have a plan in place to address the protective needs of the children and Lions screeners. If you have any questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your service!
- Lions KidSight USA Foundation Board of Directors