There is a head-scratcher of a situation going on at Julien Elementary School in Turlock.
Julien parent Amanda Caton says she was “completely shocked” and “appalled” to learn that the school did not notify fellow parents after her child recently contracted head lice. Caton believes her child contracted the lice from a fellow student at Julien.
Caton, a cosmetologist by trade, says she discovered her child had lice last Thursday after a five-day vacation out of the area. Caton says she removed all of the bedding in her child’s room, thoroughly cleaned her house with bleach, and removed the lice from her child’s hair.
Her child returned to Julien on Monday and was cleared to return to school by the school nurse. By Wednesday, Caton’s child had head lice yet again.
“The school nurse told me that head lice is not a health concern, but more of a common nuisance,” she said. “She said they do not notify other parents in the class or the entire school because of privacy issues.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head lice are not known to transmit any disease, and therefore are not considered to be a health hazard.
Caton says she understands that lice do not spread disease, but says they are much more than just a passing nuisance.
“Parents have to take off work, spend money to get prescription shampoo to kill the nits (baby lice), buy new bedding. It is a very big deal,” she said. “I just think it is irresponsible of the school to not notify parents when a child has lice. It just seems like common sense.”
Calls to the Julien school nurse and principal went unreturned. However, one school secretary said that Julien follows Turlock Unified School District policy to not notify parents for the sake of privacy.
However, TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto gave a conflicting report of the official policy.
“(The) policy for head lice indicates that ‘…administration or admin designee may at their discretion notify parents.’ The typical practice at the sites is to constantly monitor and remind students to not share clothing, brushes, food, etc. Head lice occurs occasionally at elementary sites. Discretion is exercised by site administration depending on the frequency, intensity and severity of each individual case. Additionally, staff are very careful to maintain confidentiality in an effort avoid negative attention to any student or family,” he said in a written statement.
Caton feels that over-sensitivity to privacy could potentially lead to a large head lice outbreak.
“Lice spread like wildfire. I understand bullying may happen but what do think will happen when you have a lice infestation at the school? You don’t have to put the child’s name in the notification to parents, just let everyone know so it can be contained,” she said. “I get the feeling they (Julien) just don’t want to deal with it because a lot of teachers are out for Common Core training.”
Caton indicated her child will not be returning to Julien Elementary School until some sort of lice notification system is adopted.