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School tackles lice head-on

By Susan Sandys
October 10 2007;  The Ashburton Guardian

Hinds School is planning to be proactive in its battle with head lice by supplying new pupils with a small bottle of conditioner and instructions on how to combat infestations.

The school has also formalized its battle with head lice by putting into policy how it will deal with the insects.

Principal Anthony Doreen said the school was currently searching for a sponsor so it could launch the hair conditioner initiative. The best way to get on top of an infestation was fine combing through conditioner-soaked hair on a regular basis. Expensive nit shampoos were not necessarily required.

When teachers at the school find eggs or live lice in their pupils’ hair, a notice is sent home to the parent of each child in that child’s classroom, asking them to check their child’s hair.

In the case of a child with recurring problems the school will phone the parent directly, and in extreme cases a public health nurse can visit the home of the child to advise the parent directly on control measures.

Mr Doreen said public health nurses ran an afternoon workshop at the school last term, and the school expanded its health and safety policy to formalise action.

Mr Doreen said head lice were always present at some level, and while it would be nice to see public places free of them forever, this was not realistic.

“The only way to do that would be to make sure everybody had no hair,” he said.

Methven Primary School appealed to parents in its last newsletter to treat children before they return to school.

“We are having an ongoing battle with head lice in our school,” was the message to parents.

“Can you please ensure that you check your children regularly and thoroughly to determine if they have head lice.”

“Thank you to the many parents who are being proactive and are using a variety of treatments.”

Netherby School principal Peter Livingston also said head lice were an ongoing part of school life.

“There’s no reason for children to be off school, it just needs to be treated,” he said.

Rather than parents not reacting to infestations, in some cases they over-reacted, such as shaving their children’s hair off, he said.