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Head lice continues to be an issue that many schools are confronted with each year. Three years ago the Bardstown City Schools opened a head lice center on campus. Our problems were like others, namely students with head lice infecting other students, parents blaming the schools and other families, teachers concerned over the number of days the students were missing class. I'm sure you can add many more concerns and comments regarding head lice. What to do? No one on our campus wanted to take responsibility for such a problem. As Director of Pupil Personnel for our district I wanted to know why we could not rid ourselves of this problem. How are other districts combating this problem? I found very little information. Most districts were sending the students home again and again. No one seemed to have a good solution.

I called a meeting with several key departments such as school counselors, the Family Resource Center, and our housekeeping department. We met with the school nurse. Out of these meetings came some very solid information. The most important realization was we needed to develop a head lice center that included staff, resources, and time to visit homes. Our Bardstown City Schools Housekeeping Supervisor for nearly thirty (30) years and a CASA Worker with the Nelson County District Court, Rose Lyvers, became our supervisor. She has a passion for serving children and works with my office weekly giving me updates and reports on head lice in our district. (She continues as Housekeeping Supervisor). Currently, we have three (3) years of information and insight on how we have been able to control head lice.

The first task the committee performed was to identify the target group who were the children having the most problems with head lice. We identified based on absenteeism. The first target group included twenty-nine (29) students in eleven (11) families. We started making home visits. Rose was able to use her CASA training to enter homes where the DPP was seen as the truant officer. We found that several of these families were related and the children played together. Treating one family and not the next-door family was not going to work. We had to treat all children in the family as well as the adults so Rose began to do home visits on a regular basis and offered suggestions on better housekeeping techniques. Rose had a way of earning their trust and not insulting the target group. We had excellent cooperation from the families. They began to call Rose when they suspected one of the children having lice. Once we were able to get some measure of control, the number of cases at school began to subside.

We still find some cases of lice at school. If so, Rose will take the student to the center and treat their head and return them to school (Parent permission on file). She will follow up the same day with the parents at home and offer assistance in bagging clothes and toys. She will check the adults in the home. We also found that some of the parents had difficulty with reading the directions on the bottle and how to administer the product. Rose found better results when she demonstrated the product. The last week of July, Rose visited many of the homes she has been working with and found several children with head lice again but not as heavily infested as previously. She treated the students before school started and is currently following up with each family.

Over the past three (3) years we have invested time, money and personnel to this problem. I do know that our children are not missing as many days of school compared to three (3) years ago. A student may need to go home for a day and return the next day clear of lice and nits. Three years ago I recall students missing a week of school, returning with head lice and being sent home again. Yes, the school was frustrated over the number of days missed due to lice but I have learned that the parents and students were more frustrated and embarrassed. We have many positives that we can share about our program and how it has improved the number of days that children miss school.

Make a committee to take control of the problem. Commit the time, money and staff and results can be achieved.

Best wishes for a successful school year.

Samuel W. Wheatley, Director of Pupil Personnel
Rose Lyvers, Support Services

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