Scabies scare debunked: Schools take proactive approach to rumor

Published 6:53 pm Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A viral rumor that Beaufort County Schools had a scabies infestation led Superintendent Don Phipps to personally debunk the story yesterday in a recorded message to parents and staff.

“Apparently, (the rumor) started this week. We don’t know for sure,” said Sarah Hodges, BCS’ public information officer. “(Phipps) just wanted parents to hear it from him that there’s been one case in the county to our knowledge. We’re not dealing with an outbreak.”

Scabies is an itchy, highly contagious skin condition caused by mites and transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact. Hodges said the one case in the schools had been dealt with appropriately — Beaufort County Schools’ custodial staff put into play training they’ve had to deal with these situations.

“All proper protocol was taken, including cleaning of any affected areas,” she explained. “That was done immediately.”

Phipps call to parents Wednesday afternoon was to allay any concerns from parents and staff and nip the rumor in the bud. In the recorded message, Phipps mentioned posts on the social media website Facebook had been spreading the rumor, but Hodges said it was various “verbal traffic” that prompted the schools to take a proactive approach.

“Since student safety was in question, we wanted to take no chances in getting the facts in the right hands,” Hodges said. “We’d rather parents hear it from us instead of any rumors they may be hearing.”

Beaufort County Schools’ Christmas break begins with early release on Friday. Children will return to classes on Jan. 6, according to Hodges.