Parents challenge Hawaii's ukus policy in public schools

Parents challenge Hawaii's ukus policy in public schools

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - They may be small, but some parents say ukus -- or head lice -- are a big problem.

That's why the Parent Teachers Association at Salt Lake Elementary School drafted a resolution asking the Hawaii State Department of Health and the Department of Education to reeaxmine its Ukus policy in public schools.

In 2016, the DOH implemented a new policy that allows students with ukus to go home at the end of the day, get treated and then return to school.

In the past, they weren't allowed to come back to class until all ukus were gone.

The idea is bugging parents like Chace Shigemasa. "That's what parents are afraid of," he said. "That uncertainty of 'Is my child going to come home with ukus or not?' We want to have more control."

The resolution urges state health and education officals  to reinstate the "No-Nit" policy, create an Uku guidance manual and provide in-home support and training for families managing the disease.

Hawaii's Parent Teacher Student Association adopted the resolution last week.

"It can be live training where they can come to the school community council meetings and the PTA meetings, but also maybe put up webinars online," said Jessica Wong-Sumida, vice president of legislation at Hawaii PTSA.

"If the school or state is taking it lightly, then the parents will take it lightly," said Lokelani Giffard. Her daughter recently contracted Ukus.

According to the CDC, there are six to 12 million infestations each year in the United States among children three to 11 years old.

Hawaii doesn't keep track of reported cases.

While itchy and unpleasant, health experts say ukus don't spread disease and are not a health hazard.

The DOE says the policy shift is designed to help keep children from missing class and shield them from embarrassment.

"That child is in class with everyone knowing this kid has ukus and if this child continues to come to school with ukus, that child is shunned even more," said Chace Shigemasa. "Whereas if we took the child out of school and took care of the issue, the child comes back healthy and cannot infect any other children."

The DOH wasn't available for an interview but says it's aware of parents' concerns and will respond in the best interest of the students' health and education needs.

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