Bus driver concerned about lice

GREENFIELD — A bus driver raised red flags over a possible influx of head lice should Greenfield-Central relax its rules on sending students with the bugs home, prompting the board to hold off on a policy change.

The board had debated whether students with lice needed to be sent home or could stay quarantined in the health office instead.

The board held off on a decision Monday after bus driver Kim Langston raised concerns about infected students spreading lice on the ride home.

Currently, if a louse is found, the student’s parent or guardian is called, and the student is sent home immediately. The student is checked the next day to ensure the lice problem has been resolved.

The proposed new policy would allow the student to remain at school, quarantined in a nurse’s station.

Langston said lice will become a problem if parents send their child home on the school bus.

With 78 children on her bus and a 22-inch aisle, Langston said many of her students sit three to a seat. Head-to-head contact is common, and lice can crawl on coats and hoods.

“If you do pass the policy, I have a feeling there’s going to be an increase in infestation,” she said.

The change in policy was one of 12 code changes the board was considering on final reading Monday. The board passed 11 but held off on the lice policy change per Superintendent Harold Olin’s recommendation.

Olin said since the issue wasn’t time-sensitive, it was important the board hear Langston’s concern and have time to weigh it before making a decision next month.

While board members say they’ve heard little to nothing from the public about the lice policy, the Daily Reporter’s Facebook page abounded with comments last month with comments from concerned parents, worried that keeping the students at the school would spread the bugs.

The change is proposed by corporation nurse Dawn Hanson, who said lice is not spread as easily as most people think. Hanson said she worries that students with lice miss too much school, and it could be a burden on some parents to leave work immediately and pick up their children.

Hanson pointed to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses, all of which echo her philosophy.

“I understand the concern from the bus driver’s perspective; however, the student was probably on your bus in the morning, and they’ve been on there a couple of weeks before we realize they have a problem,” Hanson said.

Board President Retta Livengood said she hadn’t considered the transportation side of the issue until Langston came forward. Still, Livengood said students have to be transported home safely, and the school bus might be the only option for some families.

Livengood said she wants to do what’s best for the students and relies on Hanson’s recommendation. But board member Ray Kerkhof said the bus driver’s perspective gave him pause.

Olin said many parents won’t accept the option to leave their child at school, making some of the argument moot.

“There’s really not a huge change from where we’re at now,” he said. “Nine out of 10 parents will get their student anyway.”