By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
A Red Jacket father has concerns about the prevalence of head lice at his daughter’s school.
James Meade’s daughter is a second-grade student at Matewan Elementary School. He says the school is not doing enough to stop the spread of head lice at the school.
“She has had lice three or four times in the last three weeks,” Meade said.
Bernice Johnson is a registered nurse with the Mingo County Health Department. She said Mingo County Schools used to have a “no nit” policy, but that policy was changed.
The Daily News obtained a copy of the Mingo BOE’s policy concerning pediculosis, or lice.
Mingo County schools, in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses, has determined that “no nit” policies are ineffective in controlling outbreaks of head lice. If a student is found to have more than 5 nits within 1cm. or a quarter of an inch from the scalp and/or live lice, the parent or guardian shall be called and made aware of the situation.
If a student is determined to have lice, parents are notified of need to treat infestation.
The parents are responsible for appropriately treating the student and accompanying their child when they return to school to verify with school personnel the student is free of live lice.
According to the policy, schools are to have at least two persons in the building trained by the school nurse to check for students for lice.
After the student has returned to school, parents and school personnel should make periodic checks to assure that the student does not have continued infestation, while ensuring confidentiality of the student and notify the school health nurse of continued problems.
After a student has been referred or sent home due to the presence of live lice six times within a three-month period, the student will be referred to Child Protective Services, the policy states.
Bernice Johnson said the MCHD can write prescriptions for lice medication, and that the cost is covered by West Virginia Medicaid. Those medications, including one called Quale, are toxic, and should not be used excessively.
However, she said there are other, less toxic ways of dealing with head lice.
“You can cover their hair in mineral oil or olive oil and wear a shower cap, and it smothers the lice,” she said. “It also makes the nits, or eggs, come off the hair easier.”
Randy Keathley, Superintendent for Mingo County Schools, said he was unaware of any lice problems in Matewan Middle, or any other school in the system.