The principal of an elementary school in the Sheepshead ‘Bay section of Brooklyn said ;yesterday that an outbreak of head lice and nits among the 'school's student body had reached “epidemic proportions” and was affecting school morale and instruction.
But City Health Department officials said the pediculosis at P.S. 255 at 1866 East 17th Street was not a serious problem.
“We, don't consider it a serious health problem,” said Dr. Alice Pitkin,director of school health. “It doesn't cause any functional health problem, doesn't incapacitate people or lower their health status.”
“Frankly I'm surprised,” said the principal, Saul Koren. “Parents are hysterical because they've never seen such thing.”
Attendance at the school has dropped from 90 percent. to 68 pereent, the principal said., There are 715 students in the school. At present 125 are released from classes because of lice infestation.
Some parents have kept students at home for fear they will become infected.
Mr. Koren said he had pleaded with Health Department officials for help in curbing the spread of the vermin after they were first discovered two weeks ago. "But my own boss, Chancellor Irving Anker, has not supported me,” he added.,
Mr. Koren said he had requested Health Department nurses to visit the school to check the heads of children sent home to cleanse themselves of lice.
“We had parents and teachers trying to check them initially.. but we were not trained to detect them because they come in different sizes,” said Mr. Koren. Sometimes, he added, youngsters with lice were readmitted to classes because they hai: notes from family physicians that said they were free of tile lice when, in fact, they were not.
Dr. Pitkin said the Health department had sent staff workers to the school with literature and instructions for parents. Parents have been told to use Quell and other prescription soaps.
In addition the school has been fumigated on two weekends—all 36 rooms on three floors, Mr. Koren said.
Though parents and the principal discussed closing the school on one occasion, they decided against it, Mr. Koren said. Mrs. Lenoir Rabinow, president of the school's Parent ‐ Teacher Association, said a parisitologist would be hired at parents’ expense.