Several parents of third graders at Suwannee Elementary School spoke out Tuesday night against the school board’s current lice and nit procedure at a Suwannee County School Board meeting held this month in Branford.
Staci Hart said the school board should revisit their procedure concerning head lice, which states that head lice are not a risk for carrying a communicable disease, therefore students who have or acquire head lice will not be excused from school. The procedure also states that “students suspicious of having head lice will be sent at the end of the day to the nurse’s office for evaluation by the nurse or designee.” If live (crawling) lice are found, the nurse will contact the parent or guardian by the end of the school day by sending a “lice letter”, and making telephone contact with the parent or guardian if possible. To read the entire procedure for head lice for Suwannee County Schools and to read the “lice letter”, visit suwanneedemocrat.com and search for this story.
“I have come here to question the policy and procedure for head lice in the Suwannee County School system,” said Hart. “I think it needs to be changed and/or amended to better suit the needs of the students.”
Hart said her daughter has brought home head lice six times this school year and while she realizes the school district isn’t entirely to blame for the lice issue, more could be done.
Hart thinks a policy for the schools concerning head lice should state that children found to have live head lice be sent home immediately, treated and checked again before allowed back into the classroom.
“I do not think this is asking too much of the school system,” said Hart. “The policy has got to be changed because in our procedures it states that we do not have a nit free/lice free policy. This is becoming an epidemic. One time? Totally understandable. Six times? Too much.”
According to the school district’s procedure, lice are primarily spread through direct head to head contact and only live 24 to 48 hours off a host.
Katie Greene said her daughter has came home from school with head lice twice this school year.
Valessa Howell said her child came home multiple times last school year with lice and believes it wouldn’t have been so bad if the school district had a better policy in place.
“When she was in the primary school, we had [another procedure] in place,” said Howell. “My child got lice then. I was called and told to come get her, treat her and when she comes back to school, we’re going to check her to make sure she has no nits. I’m good with that. I don’t want other children infected.”
Howell explained that when that procedure was in place her child got lice one time, compared to the multiple times under the current procedure.
SCSB Chairman Ed daSilva said the school board changed their procedure on head lice in 2013 at a workshop.
“It was changed in part because it hadn’t been changed in, forever,” said daSilva. “It was the same policy we had when I was a kid.”
daSilva also said the changes that were made were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The board agreed to put the issue on the agenda for the next workshop on March 10.