Tags: head | lice | policies | schools | lenient

Head Lice Policies More Lenient at Schools, Angering Parents

Image: Head Lice Policies More Lenient at Schools, Angering Parents Head louse and match head.

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 03:27 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Some school districts have loosened their policies on dealing with head lice, a situation that is aggravating some parents.

Many districts are allowing children to return to class even if they have live lice and are not sending notes home with children let parents know when someone in their child’s class has lice.

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“Lice is icky, but it’s not dangerous,” Deborah Pontius, a school nurse in Nevada, told The Associated Press. “It’s not infectious, and it’s fairly easy to treat.”

Sending home a child midday who is found to have head lice doesn’t really help, Pontius said, because he or she probably has had them for several weeks and classmates were already exposed. In addition, sending home notes that someone in class has lice just causes trouble because it usually "gets out" who has lice and that’s embarrassing for the child.

Such explanations don’t do it for some parents, who want to know if there is lice in their child’s classroom, and also point out that it’s not easy to deal with disinfecting a child and a home of lice, the AP said.

The National Pediculosis Association agrees with the parents.

“The new lice policy throws parental values for wellness and children's health under the bus," Deborah Altschuler told the AP. “It fosters complacency about head lice by minimizing its importance as a communicable parasitic disease.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics changed its guidelines in 2010, taking a stance that lice-infested students shouldn’t be excluded, and the National Association of School Nurses changed its position in 2011.

The Centers for Disease Control said there are 6 million to 12 million head lice cases every year. The problem seems to be growing, with some school districts battling infestations for months.

Several North Dakota school districts reported a rampant problem recently, going so far as to bag up classroom items to try to stop the spread of head lice, Valley News Live said.

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