Tips for schools

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1. Stress the importance of vision exams and eyeglass care at open houses, in newsletters, during parent-teacher conferences and when parents visit to discuss behavior problems.

2. At the start of the school year, let teachers know which students need glasses. Each September, the counselor at Dore Elementary in Clearing distributes student health folders that include vision exam results.

3. Make sure the disciplinarian has a list of students who failed the most recent vision screening. Students with poor vision sometimes are the ones who act out.

4. Request that parents with Medicaid order two pairs of glasses on the first visit to an optometrist. Medicaid provides unlimited pairs of glasses to children under 18, according to Steve Bradley, chief of the Bureau of Comprehensive Health Services at the Illinois Department of Public Aid.

5. Keep a pair of eyeglasses at school. At Beethoven Elementary in Grand Boulevard, children who need glasses only to see the blackboard store them overnight in their desks.

6. For kids who need to take their glasses home, collect and distribute hard cases to protect them from breaking.

7. Equip teachers or other school staff with eyeglass repair kits.

8. Establish procedures for checking whether kids who have glasses wear them. At Washington Irving Elementary on the Near West Side, Dean of Students Joseph Perlstein (now retired) toured the building with a list of students who needed glasses. If a kid got caught without them three times, he got written up for misconduct. When children lost or broke their glasses, Perlstein sought parents’ permission to drive them to the optometrist. When Irving posted the second highest ITBS reading gains in the city several years ago, the administration attributed it largely to Perlstein’s efforts, according to Assistant Principal Dennis Dandeles.