Parent brings head lice concerns to school board
A concerned parent asked the Woodford County Board of Education on Monday to review its policy related to head lice so a burden is not being placed on other families when a child is being sent to school with an infestation of lice. "It's burdensome to those households who do not want it in their house," parent Shawn Coffey said, "but I also understand the balance of trying to get kids in school, too." He said the cost of treatments to rid a home of head lice can climb into the hundreds of dollars - not to mention the time needed - to eradicate lice properly and thoroughly. "No one wants to ever admit: Their kid has lice. But I'm telling you it spreads like crazy," said Coffey. He described the method of informing other students and their parents about a case of lice in a classroom as "hit and miss," based upon his conversation with a school nurse. "If there are things that we're not doing from a notification standpoint consistently," said Hawkins during Monday's board meeting, "then we certainly will take steps to make sure we do that." Nothing in the district's current procedures related to head lice requires a notification to be sent home, Hawkins said during an interview on Tuesday. He said that issue will be discussed with school nurses to determine if that's what the district wants to do. "Absent that being listed," he said, "we may have some (schools) that are sending something home and some that aren't." He anticipates contacting other school districts to determine their notification policy. The district's head lice policy does call for a child to be sent home if live lice are found, said Hawkins. He said parents are informed and receive a checklist of what they need to do to eradicate their children's head lice. A child can return to class when he or she no longer has an infestation of live head lice, said Hawkins. He said two weeks later that child is re-checked to ensure the head lice have not returned. "You're going to deal with (head lice) from time to time when you've got 4,000 students," Hawkins acknowledged. Head lice are a parasitic insect that can be found on the head, eyebrows and eyelashes of people. Head lice feed on human blood and live close to the human scalp, but are not known to spread disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the United States, head lice infestations are most common among preschool-age kids in childcare, elementary school children and the household members of infested children, according to the CDC. Head-to-head contact with an already infested person is the most common way to get head lice, which is not considered as a medical or public health hazard because lice are not known to spread disease. 'Transformative year' Board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV told other board members and school district administrators that he sees next year as "a transformative year regarding education in Kentucky." Wilson said he remembers being on the Woodford County Board of Education when the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) became law. And he predicted significant changes in public education will likely come out of the next legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly. "I think we're very, very, very well prepared to meet anything and everything that comes our way," Wilson assured other board members. "I say that for two reasons. We have a tremendous (schools) superintendent who is very well connected. He has done a great job in his nine years with us of getting to know people. He has influence. He has respect. And that will really, really assist us in whatever comes our way." Additionally, Wilson described the current board of education as a group that will adapt and lead no matter what changes are implemented in public education through legislative action. Charter schools have already been a topic of discussion before and after the election of Gov. Matt Bevin, a vocal supporter of charter schools in Kentucky. Calendar, other approvals The board approved a school calendar for the 2017-18. The year will begin on Thursday, Aug. 10, with the last day of school scheduled for Tuesday, May 22. Fall break is scheduled during the week of Oct. 2 to 6. Spring break is scheduled during the week of April 2 to 6. In other action, the board approved its meeting schedule for next calendar year. Meetings are again on the third and fourth Mondays of the month in 2017, with several exceptions because of holidays. The board also had its second reading of a 504 policy update to comply with new requirements for student services. Year in review Hawkins said Woodford County schools have many things to celebrate as they headed into winter break. In addition to Huntertown Elementary being recognized as a School of Distinction for a second year in a row, three other schools earned distinguished ratings in last spring's state assessment and the district as a whole was rated as distinguished based upon its K-Prep results. Dual-credit offerings have been expanded for high school students and an expansion of a One-to-One initiative, which now places computer tablets in the hands of middle and high school students, "has gone extremely smoothly, and we received our best audit report earlier this fall," Hawkins told board members. "I could list many other positive things going on all across the district," he added, "but those are just a few of the highlights from the first semester." Hawkins concluded his monthly remarks by wishing "each of you a wonderful time with those who you love the most. May you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."