Schools’ lenient lice policies bug some parentsPublished 9:28am Friday, November 8, 2013
WASHINGTON — Some parents are scratching their heads over less restrictive head lice policies that allow children with live bugs in their hair to return to the classroom.
And some school nurses are no longer sending home the dreaded “lice note” to other parents with kids in the classrooms, alerting them to the possibility of lice in their own child’s precious locks. The policy shift is designed to help keep children from missing class, shield children with lice from embarrassment and protect their privacy.
“Lice is icky, but it’s not dangerous,” says Deborah Pontius, the school nurse for the Pershing County School District in Lovelock, Nev. “It’s not infectious, and it’s fairly easy to treat.”
Usually by the time an itchy child is sent to the nurse, Pontius says, the child has probably had lice for about three weeks to two months. She says classmates already would have been exposed. There’s little additional risk of transmission, she says, if the student returns to class for a few hours until the end of the day, when a parent would pick up the child and treat for lice at home.
Pontius also doesn’t send lice notes. “It gets out who had lice,” she says, and there’s no need to panic parents. Parents with elementary school-aged kids should check their children’s hair for lice once a week anyway, she says. If they are doing that, then there’s really no need for the notes.
The idea of letting kids with untreated lice remain in class doesn’t set well with some parents.
“I’m appalled. I am just so disgusted,” says Theresa Rice, whose 8-year-old daughter, Jenna, has come home from her elementary school in Hamilton County, Tenn., with lice three times since school started in August.