Kids sent home due to head lice; policy of instant dismissal debated by medical experts

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COLONIAL SCHOOL – On Jan. 7, several kids were detected with lice. They were sent home immediately.

Lice checks happen routinely every year at the school. Lice Enders, parent volunteers and the school nurse check every kid’s hair for lice infestation. If a student is detected with live bugs or nits (lice eggs), he or she is sent back home and is expected to return only after he or she is lice and nit free.

Is this justified? According to the New York Daily News, there is an ongoing debate on the issue. Some schools do not follow the strict policy of sending kids home immediately. Kids are sent home at the end of the day with a notice for overnight treatment. Kids do not miss out on their learning time this way.

Another debate is whether kids with only live bugs should be sent home or kids with nits should as well. According to the New York Statewide School Health Services Center, the American Association of Pediatrics says that “no healthy child should be excluded from, or allowed to miss school because of head lice, and that ‘no nit’ policies for return to school should be discouraged.”

However, the National Pediculosis Association supports the “No Nit Policy as the public health standard intended to keep children lice free, nit free, and in school.”

Mrs. Joan Walder, the Colonial nurse said, “I think people don’t understand that it’s not so bad. Kids can feel some stigma, but that’s because people can be mean. I think of getting lice as catching a cold. It comes and goes.”

The Colonial Times asked several students what they would do if their best friend were sent home for lice.  Would these students avoid their best friend for a few days, pretend as if nothing ever happened or avoid their friend forever?

“I would probably not totally avoid my best friend,” said Ally Hart (5H). “I would just not touch her hair or get close so the lice doesn’t spread to me.”

Ella Miller (5V) said, “I would not avoid my best friend because our parents would figure something out, and I wouldn’t avoid her anyway because I remember the time I had lice.”

Thomas Shelton (5V) said, “I would pretend like nothing happened.”

Mrs. Nayak, a Colonial parent said, “It is good that our school runs the lice check program because kids detected with mild infection can be treated easily. I understand that parents do get panicked when they hear about their kid having lice. The whole task of lice treatment can be overwhelming, but there are many lice treatment centers now that can treat it professionally. Also, parents should check their kids hair every week for lice.”

So, what should students do to avoid this experience? Mrs. Walder said, “Don’t share personal items like combs, hats, scarfs, headbands, pillows, etc. with your siblings and friends. Clean your hair brush with hot water regularly and apply tea tree oil to your hair to prevent lice.”