The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Nurses' Response to Concerns about Lice

Recently there have been questions about how head lice are handled within our schools. We regret that this has happened. We wanted to make sure you are educated as far as how we handle lice here at Wawasee, which is consistent with many schools across the state. Wawasee nurses follow the guidelines given by the Indiana Department of Education. The IDOE recommendation to schools is to follow guidelines which are based on science. At Wawasee we follow the Harvard School guidelines. A copy of those guidelines may be found on the corporation web site under Health Services.

As school nurses, we want to reassure you that we have and will continue to go beyond those guidelines and work with lice situations on a case-by-case basis. We address any lice we know about, as we aren't always told by parents. The great majority of parents pick up their children from school and address the situation at home. A few cases are handled by our school nurses. We have and loan out Robi-Combs for use by parents. Lice and live eggs are shocked and killed by the Robi-Combs. If properly used, the Robi-Combs allow students to return to class on the same day. Wawasee nurses also will use the Robi-Combs and treat students in the clinic prior to sending them back to class. Follow-up treatment by parents is expected, but can't be mandated. Our nurses conduct follow-up checks, just like we have always done. Extreme lice cases may be referred to the county board of health for assistance and/or child protective services for further action.

Please know that head lice are not a health issue. Lice do not carry or spread disease. Lice are a very emotional nuisance! Most children have an instance of lice sometime in their early childhood or elementary school years, meaning most of us reading this have some emotional memories about this topic. I'm guessing that most of us are scratching our heads right now just reading about lice!

At WCSC we are looking at and trying some options involving head lice. We are fortunate to have individual student lockers in our elementary schools for most students. The PTO in at least one school purchased household wastebasket liners to hold children's coats in common closets for those children who don't have individual lockers. Separating coats and personal apparel items helps, although most lice transmissions are head-to-head ones. A few individual student lockers at each elementary school are now available for use by children in classes that have only common coat closets. Use of those lockers will be worked out by the school nurse and parents. We are working with public health professionals to look at other options.

If you have questions about lice, please contact your school nurse. Our caring school nurses do a great job handling the many needs of our children. Any follow-up situations get referred to the head school nurse. We'll continue working together to keep an inevitable problem to a minimum.

Myra Alexander, RN
(for the Wawasee Nurses)

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