Pierre School Board Discusses Head Lice Policy

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PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) The Pierre School Board discussed changes yesterday that were made earlier this summer to the district’s Pediculossis or Head Lice policy. In August, the board modified the policy to mirror new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies–which say that it is rare for lice to spread in a classroom setting. Previously, students who were noted to have live head lice were sent home. Now, each case is left up to the discretion of school nurses. Last year, there were about a dozen reports of lice out of more than 2,500 students in the district—and some of those cases were likely repeat infestations in the same student. Pierre School Superintendent Dr. Kelly Glodt says the school district policy wording was changed slightly to match recent guideline changes from various health agencies.

One parent spoke against the policy change. Mary Fischer Healy said parents should be notified if there is a case of lice found in their child’s classroom. Jeri Wiebe, who serves as a school nurse at Riggs High School and Washington and McKinley Elementary Schools says she believes that people will be reassured when they understand that lice cases don’t often spread among students in schools.

Wiebe says when it is found that a student has lice; it has to be determined where the child was exposed.

Local physician, Dr. Marty Allison also spoke during yesterday’s meeting, saying that there is a lot of misinformation on head lice-and that lice can be eliminated with one treatment. She said the chance of lice spreading is very low. Board members agreed to continue allowing school nurses and other staff to make case-by-case decisions on how to handle lice when it is discovered. No action was taken on the issue.

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