Less Strict School Lice Policies Bug Parents

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We all remember going to the school nurse’s office to get checked for lice and that one student who just never made it back to class after it. But new, more lenient school policies spare kids with lice the embarrassment. Some parents have been left scratching their heads.

Some school nurses are no longer sending notes home about lice to other parents warning them about lice in the classroom, the Associated Press reports. Some schools are even allowing students with lice to return to the class instead of being sent home. These new changes in school policies are meant to keep kids from missing class and avoid embarrassing them while keeping their privacy intact.

“Lice is icky, but it’s not dangerous,” says Deborah Pontius, school nurse for the Pershing County School District in Lovelock, Nev. “It’s not infectious, and it’s fairly easy to treat.”

But this doesn’t sit well with some parents. Theresa Rice, whose daughter Jenna attends elementary school in Hamilton County, Tenn., has come home with lice three times since the school year started.

“I’m appalled. I am just so disgusted,” Rice says. “Its just a terrible headache to have to deal with lice,” Rice says.

But by the time a child with lice makes the trip to the nurse’s office, the child has had the lice for about three weeks to two months, Pontius argues, and classmates would already had been exposed.

There is little additional risk of lice being transmitted to other classmates if the student returns to class for a few hours, Pontius adds.

While schools in California, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina and oher parts of the country have adopted less strict policies, the National Pediculosis Association in Massachusetts is disagrees with them.

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

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are 6 million to 12 million head lice infestations each year in the United States among grade school children three to 11 years old. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has lice, or their personal items like combs and towels, is at greater risk.

Sources: The Associated Press, Center for Disease Control