BOE picks at nits
The Toccoa Record
The Stephens County Board of Education on Tuesday accepted for review a new
policy for head lice in schools.
According to Jennifer Stefanini, who addressed the board,
head lice is a persistent problem in Stephens County schools, particularly
in some of the elementary schools.
"This is an ongoing issue," said Stefanini, the school system's head nurse,
"because some of the parents don't treat the nits and don't remove them.
Then they send the kids back to school. It's an ongoing cycle."
Currently there is no policy in the school's handbook,
but the procedure has been to send children who have lice home until there
are no more live lice. The children are, however, allowed to return to
school with nits - louse eggs - which will eventually become lice.
The new "nit-free'' policy, which will be reviewed for the next month before
being brought up for final approval at the Oct. 18 meeting, would bar
students from "attending classes with the general population if they are
infested with head lice or nits."
Stefanini indicated that much of the problem stemmed from
a few individuals who repeatedly spead lice to classmates because they are
allowed to return to classes with nits still in their hair.
Under the proposed policy, if a classroom teacher suspects an infestation,
the entire class will be checked for head lice "to avoid embarrassment and
to contain the infestation."
Siblings of students found with lice and/or nits and
their classmates will also be checked.
The policy further states that "every child readmitted to school shall be
examined upon readmission and again in eight to 10 days after readmission to
determine if re-infestation has occurred."
The downside to the policy, as superintendent Gary Steppe pointed out, is
that attendance will be negatively affected.
"Some children are going to be out a lot," Steppe said. "There is a
continuous head lice problem in their homes, through no fault of their own.
We may have to go into homes - if they'll allow us to - and provide help."
According to the policy, "a student should not miss more than one or two
days because of the treatment of head lice. If a child is absent more than
three days, the principal should notify the school nurse or the social
As far as helping treat infested students' homes, headlice.org states that
to treat a house where a person infested with head lice lives, pesticidal
sprays are unnecessary and vacuuming works best.
"Head lice are human parasites and require human blood to survive," the Web
"Vacuuming is the safest and best way to remove lice or fallen hairs with
attached nits from...whereever someone with head lice may have rested their
Pesitcidal sprays are unwarranted and may pose personal and environmental
Vacuum and save your time and energy for what benefits you most - thorough
Steppe said that the schools already provide aid to those with head lice by
supplying them with medicines, which are donated to the school system.
The board decided unanimously to accept the policy for a 30-day review.
In the meantime, Stefanini, who said she consulted other school districts
while drafting the policy, said she will get in touch with surrounding
school systems who have similar policies in place to see if the policies
have been effective and how attendance has been affected.
September is, coincidentally, is Head Lice Prevention Month.
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