A slip of the finger may have caused unnecessary panic among some parents, when a notice was sent out earlier this week about kids’ possible exposure to lice at the Park District of Oak Park’s Gymnastics and Recreation Center, 21 Lake St.
Lice also are on the minds of Oak Park Elementary District 97 board members as they prepare to vote on a revision in August to a policy regarding student support services.
Park District spokeswoman Diane Stanke said a notice is typically sent to other parents when a family reports a child may have lice. In this instance, the notice should have been sent to only three classes: Gym Kids 2 at 4:40 p.m. on Mondays, Beginner Boys at 4 p.m. on Mondays, and USAG Boys & Girls and GIJO Team Girls.
Instead, the notice was distributed accidentally to parents in other programs.
“We don’t have a lice problem at the gymnastics center at all,” she stressed. “We have a very strict lice policy. Kids must be lice-free and nit-free for 48 hours before they allowed back in the program.”
Suzanne Lavin, owner of Shiny Strands, a salon specializing in lice removal at 262 Chicago Ave., said several concerned parents had forwarded to her the Park District’s emails regarding lice. She said she wasn’t surprised that there might be an outbreak in a heavily used public facility like the gymnastics center.
“It can happen anywhere where there’s close head-to-head contact,” she said. “Children don’t have the same sense of personal space as adults, so that’s why you see this happen more often with them.”
Many parents try over-the-counter products like Rid, but Lavin said there have been lawsuits against the companies after children were injured by improper use. In addition, those products typically kill only adult lice and not the eggs.
Lavin uses the latest products and methods recommended by West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Lice Solutions Resource Network, Inc.
Though she’s uncertain how many clients she’s served in the year she’s been in business, Lavin said the problem is serious enough for her to have a steady stream of customers willing to pay up to $90 an hour. Salons like hers, which is part of a four-shop franchise that started in Glen Ellyn, are not unusual in other parts of the world, she added.
On the advice of the Policy Reference Education Subscription Service, D97’s may change a policy that names head lice as a reason call the school nurse. As written, the policy says a nurse “may implement procedures to further a healthy school environment and prevent or reduce the spread of disease.”
PRESS recommends the change in policy because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined “head lice are not known to transmit any disease and therefore are not considered a health hazard.”
But Lavin said there can be some minor health risks, such as infection caused by scratching.
“Children who have lice also often have their sleep interrupted by the itching. After several weeks, they can be totally exhausted,” she said.