District Administration March 2018 - 43

"We've seen kids with ukus [head lice]
for months," says Corey Rosenlee, head
of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. "That creates huge problems in our
classrooms and becomes a big distraction for the teacher."
Rosenlee's organization has asked the
state's department of education to reconsider its policy of allowing children with
lice to remain in school.
"Human nature as it is, the teacher
doesn't want to get ukus in their hair and
they don't want the other students contracting ukus," Rosenlee says. "So now,
instead of just trying to work on their
lesson plans, teachers are in some ways
asked to become a nurse, and that's asking our teachers to do too much."
Fine-tuning policies
The American Academy of Pediatrics
says that letters notifying families that
a case of lice has been discovered may
violate privacy laws, cause unnecessary
alarm and unintentionally reinforce
myths about lice. "Parents think they
have a right to know if there's lice in
school, but legally, they don't," says Pontius, of Pershing schools.
Some schools believe the better
approach is to provide parents with general information about lice on a yearly
basis. Douglass Elementary School in
Boulder, Colorado, sends families a letter that includes information about the
district's policy (which allows children
with lice to stay in the classroom), along
with evidence-based information about
transmission and treatment. "I stick to
the facts, link to information from the
CDC and say, based on this information, this is the protocol we believe is
best," says Principal Jonathan Wolfer.
However, not informing school parents about head lice infestation can trigger anger, frustration and public outrage.
So, some schools and districts, including
Washoe County, continue to notify all
families in affected classrooms.
"I have a concern about that part
of the policy, but it was such a strong
recommendation of our committee-it
was unanimous-that we built it into
the policy," says Balchunas, the director
www.DistrictAdministration.com

of student health services. Since Washoe
Country's transition to a more lenient
policy six years ago, fewer children have
missed school due to lice. That's a win,
but Balchunas knows the district can't
afford to ignore the voices of concerned
community members.
To address stakeholders' fears, the
district will form a committee to review
the current policy and the latest research
regarding head lice, and to possibly recommend revisions.

"We don't want fear driving policy, but
maybe we can do a better job with the PR
and education piece," Balchunas says. DA
Jennifer Fink is a freelance writer based in
Wisconsin.

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March 2018 43


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

District Administration March 2018 - Cover1
District Administration March 2018 - Cover2
District Administration March 2018 - 1
District Administration March 2018 - 2
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