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Another community wants their head lice policy back!

By Rachel Kyler
June 25 2007;  Northwest Florida Daily News

Parents can stop scratching their heads when it comes to lice procedures in Okaloosa County's schools.

After a few years without districtwide guidelines, the Okaloosa County School Board is creating a new lice policy.

Plew Elementary School parent Shawna Crist hopes it curbs a problem she says was beginning to become an "epidemic."

Crist began petitioning the school board after her second-grade daughter picked up head lice twice in the last school year.

"There's no urgency for parents to rid their children of head lice if there's no policy in place," said Crist, a former teacher.

A few years ago, the Okaloosa County Health Department ended it's "no nit" or "all-clear" policy.

If infested with lice, children were required only to bring a dated receipt and empty bottle of lice shampoo.

The new policy would require students with lice to be sent home with written procedures for treatment.

They would be allowed to return to class once the school had been provided with documentation that they are being treated and then checked again in seven days.

Upon the third incident of lice or live nits in a single semester, students will be referred to school officials.

In addition to the new policy, the health department has provided resources to train students, including educational DVDs.

Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Alexis Tibbetts said it's important for the school district to have a consistent "standard of service."

"We need to let parents know we're doing what we can to not reinfest kids," she said. "It just helps the overall health of our children."

Many educators and health professionals say lice are not a danger but a nuisance.

Although Crist knows lice aren't harmful, she contends, "You're pouring neurotoxins on your child's head."

The Okaloosa County School Board will vote on the new head lice procedures at its July 23 meeting.

Without all the scratching and itching, "Kids can learn better in classrooms and can be free of distractions," Tibbetts said.

But the issue goes beyond classroom disruptions; it's about common courtesy, Crist said.

"We teach children to wash their hands when they have a cold," she said. "Why would it be different for head lice?"

Daily News Staff Writer Rachel Kyler can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 440.