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Parents Question Lice Notification Policy

Farmingdale parents voiced their concerns at the November school board meeting.

Parents expressed concern about how the notifies parents of head lice cases at the November Board of Education meeting.

"At present only the child's classroom in which the lice is found is provided with notification," said Stacy Trantino, a representative from the PTA.

Assistant Superintendent Barbara Horsley explained that there had been 36 total cases of lice reported as of last week, which she classified as a normal number for this time of year.

"It's the kind of thing that happens as people close up their houses and the winter progresses," Horsley said. "If a live case of head lice is found on a child within the building, the child is sent home and the class is checked. The parent is then asked to provide proof they have treated the problem and they come back to school."

Horsley added that all families within that class are notified that a case was found and that their child has been checked by the school nurse. The nurse also checks the child on which the lice was found and any siblings in the district before he or she returns to class.

"Our concern is that not only does that child expose children within his/her own classroom but they go to gym, to art and ride buses and in all of those activities, there is a much wider exposure to children than just in the classroom of the child that has the lice," Trantino said. "A request has been made if there can be a reconsideration to the district policy."

Parents requested the whole school be notified or a general letter go home in the beginning of school about the time of year lice is prevalent. Horsley said that in some of the schools there is a letter that is sent home in the opening packet.

"Notifying the entire school for one case could be more than is appropriate in terms of  attention to the issue," she said. "But sending one out at the opening of school so people are on notice, I can talk with the principals about that."

There is no district policy on lice notification, just "procedures we try to be consistent about," Horsley said.

Other parents at the meeting said classes were not being checked after cases were reported. Horsley responded that if a case was found on a weekend and is treated, the classes would not be checked.

"We did a full round of 'are we being consistent,' but if they missed that one, they won't miss the next one, because we made that concretely clear," Horsley said.

Speakers added that Farmingdale parents are worried and going to a business in Hauppauge called DeLiceful to treat the cases, which charges more than $100 per child to treat for lice.

"That is unnecessary," Horsley said. "But if you don't have a child where it happened in your classroom or home before, you might be blind sighted."

Richard Pollack November 11, 2011 at 01:43 AM
This is simple. School officials and parents are in critical need to be educated about the biology of head lice as well as their public health insignificance. It seems that many in Farmingdale are considerably burdened by misinformation and myth. Do the parents expect the schools to notify them every time there is a child with a cold or flu? Those infections are far more burdensome to health, and they are far more transmissible than is a case of head lice. What about pinworms? Far more children are endowed with those, but no one (thankfully) looks for them in school. It would be helpful to all to read the position statements by the American Academy of Pediatrics and by the National Association of School Nurses. Links to those sites, as well as a thorough discussion on head lice and management issues, are easily accessed at https://identify.us.com. This is the new site for educational information and resources that formerly was hosted from the Harvard School of Public Health. -Richard Pollack, PhD (IdentifyUS LLC)
Rosemarie Stauber November 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM
As a parent of a child at Howitt - I have not received any letter this school year, or last, that there had been any head lice at Howitt. However, I was at Howitt yesterday and was told, by another parent, that there have been lice this school year at Howitt. I agree with the parent's comment in the article above - if there is lice in the school, in any classroom, all the parents of students at that school should be notified - since the students do not only remain within the population of their classroom only - they use many other areas of their school and interact with other students (lunch, gym, bus, etc). It would only be PROACTIVE of our school district to notifiy ALL PARENTS of the school where head lice was reported.
barb middendorff December 07, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Kids can get lice (adults too) from ANYWHERE! How many different places, activities, does the average child do? It comes down to the PARENTS, FAMILIES, are the ones who have to be vigilant. In elementary schools, the nurses check the classroom if THEY KNOW OF AN INFESTATION. In Howitt, the High School, it is impossible-your child is not in one class. Speaking from experience-twice in my house over the school years-OLDER children KNOW when their head is itchy and it is not NORMAL. I would remember letters at the beginning of the season for lice, (and other illnesses, like chicken pox ) and if you look, there is PLENTY of info telling a parent, guardian what to look out for. I also KNOW, from experience, that PEOPLE do not REPORT to anyone, the SCHOOLS, etc. that their kids HAD LICE. Heard it from some, read it anonymously, and hey, my one child got it twice, and NO ONE, not one of this child's friends, people this child came in contact with, places, etc. EVERY HAD LICE! It is amazing that TWICE, my child picked it up FROM NOWHERE! Some people are ashamed of it, consider it 'dirty'. All it takes is one person with lice to put their jacket on a pile with others. So, it you see your child or anyone else in the household SCRATCHING, SCRATCHING, their head-take A LOOK! Lice eggs can look like dandruff, but eggs do not FLAKE OFF! ('glued on to follicles). They are found mostly around ears, nap of hair.

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