The Crookston School District will be conducting early childhood screening on April 12, 13 & 15 at Washington Elementary School for children ages three to five. The screening will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day.

Washington Elementary School Principal Denice Oliver said children are required to be screened before enrolling in School in Minnesota. “It is required by the Minnesota Department of Education that we screen children that are 3-5 years old,” said Oliver. “They recommend early screening, so we really encourage parents to screen starting at age three because we want to see how children are growing, developing, and learning. Even if a parent wants to send their child to preschool – we have a five-day-a-week full-day program for four-year-olds that’s a great opportunity for parents to get their children involved in school and helps them get ready for kindergarten – they are required to be screened before they enter school.”

There are several different types of screening that occur. “They do a developmental screener,” said Oliver. “We look at height and weight; their vision and hearing is checked; a speech screener (for) speech and language; a health history; and an opportunity for parents to talk about concerns they have for their children or their celebrations. Then, we also give parents information about all the different early childhood opportunities that we have in Crookston. We are very fortunate in Crookston that we have so many things for young children and families to do. We want them to be aware of those things because all of those experiences help them get ready for school and kindergarten.”

While screening won’t predict future success or struggles, Oliver said it could identify things that may hinder learning. “We want to make sure that kids are on track for kindergarten,” said Oliver. “Let’s say we did a vision screening, and they didn’t pass; the school nurse will encourage parents to take them to their family eye care professional. It’s just to catch some of those things early that we identify as maybe a red flag in their learning. All of these screeners will help with that. It’s not a predictor of future intelligence or ability in school. Or it’s not a predictor of future issues in school, but it does help us to provide intervention for those kids that might need that support earlier, before school starts, so that they can be ready to start kindergarten with all those skills that will help them be successful in school.”

There have been a few changes to screening this year due to COVID-19, explained Oliver. “Early childhood screening is located at Washington Elementary School this year,” said Oliver. “In the past, we’ve had it at different locations in Crookston, but we are having it at Washington Elementary School. To try to mitigate COVID in our community, we’ve made some changes. One of the changes we’ve made is asking people to have all of their paperwork filled out in advance. We will either email or mail that to people in advance so that when they arrive, their time here is less than it would typically be. The full screening will take 30-45 minutes, so people need to allow that much time in their schedule.”  

The school district has been sending out communication to families they are aware of that have a child age three to five in the community, but those who haven’t received information are encouraged to call the school. “We have sent out instant messages, texts, emails, and a mailing to families that we know live in Crookston that are eligible to attend,” said Oliver. “If your child was three by January 21, 2021, they are eligible to attend the screening. Or any four- and five-year-old that haven’t been screened are also eligible to attend. We have been calling families that we have not heard from to register them to come in for a screening. If you haven’t heard from us or received any information, we encourage you to call us at Washington School at 218-281-5078 to get more information about that.”