"I know lice cannot be prevented, but their effect and the extent of their spread could certainly be mitigated with a simple letter notifying parents of possible exposure."

PACE — One mother hopes to see a change in the Santa Rosa County School District's head lice policy.

Andrea Light started a petition last week to ask Santa Rosa School District Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick to change the district's parent notifications regarding head lice.

According to the change.org petition, Light would like to see the current policy changed to include notification to parents whose children are potentially exposed to lice. The petition was a result of a conversation started in a Santa Rosa County parent Facebook group.

"There were comments upon comments," Light said. "I didn't even know it was policy until I looked it up."

In the Facebook group, a father described an incident last month in which his wife was volunteering in their daughter's classroom when she overheard that one of the students had head lice. The mother immediately had her two daughters checked for lice. The nurse confirmed that both daughters had lice. The father contacted school officials about his concerns. In the meantime, one of his daughter's friends went home with head lice.

"I know lice cannot be prevented, but their effect and the extent of their spread could certainly be mitigated with a simple letter notifying parents of possible exposure," the post said.

Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties all have similar policies. None require notification of a possible outbreak. According to the Santa Rosa County school health manual, teachers are to look for head lice symptoms in students and refer them to the school health technician. If head lice are present, the student is sent home to get treatment and is not to return to class until cleared by a school health technician or nurse.

Light was motivated by the Facebook post and started the petition which has gained more than 800 signatures so far.

"I really didn't seeing it getting this big," she said. "I want people to know about this. My concern is that (the current policy) allows high amounts of infestation."

Deborah Stilphen, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County, said head lice is not a communicable disease and therefore not required to be reported under Florida law.

As a mother of two — she has an 8-year-old daughter at Pea Ridge Elementary and a 14-year-old son at Avalon Middle School — Light has faced head lice before. It's "quite the ordeal," she said.

"It's mainly expensive and then you have to wash bed sheets, stuffed animals," she said. "Parents are missing work and kids are missing school. The best advocate could be the schools. Parents like to know when we can't be there."

Light said she understands schools' stance on protecting student's privacy. She doesn't think affected children have to be named.

"There's a stigma, I know, but there shouldn't be," Light said. "Lice prefer clean hair. I wouldn't hurt to educate people. It's not a dirty thing."

Assistant Superintendent Bill Emerson said the school district is aware of the petition and said it would be taken into account. The School District reviews its policies annually.

"It's a large inconvenience, no doubt, and there's a cost," he said. "It's not a public health hazard. In the last eight to 10 years, I can't remember when it ever rose to high levels. It happens in all schools."

Sign the petition at change.org