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Edmond School Board talks head lice

EDMOND — Members of the Edmond school board have tweaked the policy on student head lice after being given an update on how the district handles the parasites.

Nancy Goosen, director of special services, asked the board during a recent meeting to update language in school policy to reflect changes in state law.

After a child is treated for head lice, the law now requires that a health professional clear the student before the child returns to class.

Goosen said parents, especially at the elementary level, are given guidelines from the state Health Department on how to recognize and treat the small parasites that can live in hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

"Among the things parents are told are not to treat the scalp with gasoline or kerosene," Goosen told the board. The state guidelines do give proper ways of handling the issue.

Goosen said younger children appear to be more at risk for head lice, which causes itching.

"Elementary students tend to share pillows and hats in the classroom," she said. She said the problem is not as prevalent at middle or high school.

Goosen called lice "a common issue for all school districts across the nation." Edmond, with 24,400 students, had cases reported last year, she said.

"We had about 30 to 40 cases last year, which is less than 1 percent ... of our overall student population," she said.

Superintendent Bret Towne said the school's Special Services Center at 215 N Boulevard has a nurse available every day between 8 and 9 a.m. to assist parents in getting their children cleared to return to the classroom.

School board members took advantage of the opportunity to question officials on how they would handle an outbreak of head lice, including whether notices would be sent home to all parents in a school if a few cases were discovered.

District nurse Kathy Bogumil said she would be a bit hesitant to send out such notices.

"That usually causes a panic with parents," she said. "It's not a disease, and it doesn't cause illness."

The new policy also states a student should not miss more than a day or two of school for treatment of lice.

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›

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