Olentangy Local School District leaders are working to dispel a rumor that head lice have affected more than 150 students in one local elementary school.

Olentangy Local School District leaders are working to dispel a rumor that head lice have affected more than 150 students in one local elementary school.

District spokesman Devon Immelt said that contrary to the numbers that have been circulating, just 18 cases of head lice have been reported in the 23-building district this school year. A large portion of those cases were isolated to three families that had experiences with the contagious pests, he said.

Buckeye Gymnastics, which operates a facility in Powell, sent an email last Thursday, Oct. 24, to parents, warning them of "an outbreak of head lice." It didn't list which elementary school was affected.

The email was the catalyst for parents to contact the district with concerns, Immelt said.

Meanwhile, Buckeye Gymnastics manager Cathy Siedlak received a call from the district. She wouldn't say which district leader she spoke with, but admitted that while "he was upset" in response to the email she'd sent, the district didn't blame her for the trouble, either.

Siedlak said she may have "exaggerated" in the email, but had no ill will. Instead, she was trying to reassure the many parents who'd come to her with concerns about head lice, she said.

"The point of our email was to make sure that they know that if you are a student at Buckeye (Gymnastics), our policy remains the same as the school district," she said.

Olentangy schools' 2013-14 handbook requires that students with head lice stay home from school and be checked at the school clinic before returning to classes.

"We send out health notices a lot because we want parents to know that we protect against things like head lice and the flu," Siedlak said. "It's a priority for us that our gyms are clean and healthy so our kids are healthy."

The Delaware General Health District recommends that schools require children to store hats and coats in individual areas instead of having all students place their items on a shared rack. It also suggests parents conduct a daily check for white lice eggs and to teach children not to share hats or combs.

"There are some common misconceptions about head lice," said health district spokeswoman Traci Whittaker, who pointed out lice cannot cause diseases or lead to a more-serious condition.

"It's not a disease; it's just an inconvenience," she said.

Lice can be treated with over-the-counter shampoos and can be cleared from a home by vacuuming carpet and washing sheets and pillows in warm water.

Information from the health district states head lice do not jump or fly and can't spread to pets.

Schools and day cares center are required to report head lice cases to the health district only if they see an steep increase in cases. Whittaker said no cases have been reported by Olentangy schools.