Dear Oregon Lion and Children’s Vision Health Advocate,
Gov. Brown this week has asked all Directors of Oregon departments to provide a revised budget reflecting 8% to 17% in proposed cuts from their budgets. Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill is considering the elimination of the School Vision Screening fund ($800,000) for next school year.
This possible elimination of funds is due to a misunderstanding that Lions vision screening – which utilizes no-touch screening technology – violates social distancing guidelines. OLSHF is confident that we are able to provide vision screening to Oregon students while maintaining a minimum 6 foot distance from students at all times.
We ask that you send the email below to your state legislators between now and Monday. Your assistance could help over 200,000 Oregon students to be screened for vision health issues in 2020-2021. Please CLICK HERE to find your legislators.
Thanks for your help. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at DougT@olshf.org or call me at (503) 413-8385.
Dear (INSERT YOUR LEGISLATOR) and Director Gill,
I am writing to you in my role as an Oregon Lion to urge you to preserve school vision screenings for the next school year.
The Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) is confident that school vision screenings can be done following all social distancing protocols with limited visitors to participating schools. We’ve linked a video below for your reference showing how the vision screenings can adapt to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Vision Screening Example with Social Distancing: https://youtu.be/ZgeGzLsGf10
OLSHF is able to follow all ODE requirements for social distancing, PPE and any additional requirements put in place to reopen schools this fall. We know that by working with ODE and the schools, kids can safely receive these critical vision tests.
Thanks for your support!
-INSERT YOUR NAME
Email from OLSHF on May 12th, 2020
Dear Governor Brown, Director Gill, and Members of the Oregon Legislature,
Today, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released proposed budget cuts including eliminating important public health programs like school vision screenings for the 2020-2021 school year. ODE states that vision screenings are proposed for elimination because “vision screening requires that children and the person who is administering the vision screening test are close in physical proximity”. We respectfully submit that this is inaccurate. Vision screenings specifically require distance between the screener and the student. The devices will not work at a close distance. Rather, the vision screening process utilizes a no-touch, cutting-edge technology, conforming to all physical and social distancing requirements. Moreover, the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) has begun the process to acquire PPE to further limit any exposure risk to students and volunteers. Vision screenings can be done using the same precautions that will be used in schools and classrooms.
We urge Governor Brown and Director Gill to keep vision screenings in the 2020-2021 ODE budget.
Since 2013, the Oregon Legislature has passed multiple laws and appropriations mandating vision screening for children and reimbursing schools for the cost of vision screening. This is in recognition of the fact that 25% of children have an undiagnosed vision problem that can significantly impact their ability to succeed in school. Identifying vision issues early and subsequent treatment can dramatically improve student outcomes, including positively impacting Oregon high school graduation rates. Students who can’t read at grade level are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school. Eighty percent of learning is visual. Oregon students have already been adversely affected by missing out on important classroom experience. This budget cut will further divide the students most in need of being visually connected to their learning experience.
The Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) has 485 public schools scheduled for vision screening events for 2020-2021, which would amount to approximately 160,000 students screened. We anticipate scheduling more schools for the 2020-21 school year. Moreover, we expect to refer at least 17,000 students to Oregon eyecare providers to get the support that they need. Serving this number of students has required significant investment and reliance on the state funding now in question. Pulling funding now could cause a significant disruption in our ability to serve students and our community.
We understand the need for budget reductions statewide, but believe very strongly that this fund could be reduced by 8-17%, but certainly not fully eliminated as proposed. We appreciate your help in the process of preserving as much of the School Vision Screening fund as possible for the 2020-21 school year.
-Doug Thompson, Executive Director, Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF)