When a Kansas mother found lice in her child’s hair, she immediately notified school officials, thinking they would inform parents of other students.
But, the mother was surprised to learn, the district will no longer send such notifications beginning in January. And rather than immediately sending children with lice home from school, they will allowed the students to finish out the day.
Schoolwide lice checks will also end.
“I kind of think it’s ridiculous because if it does even just a little bit to prevent the spread of lice that’s a big deal,” the mother, Micah Roach, told KWCH.
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The Haysville School District defended the policy changes, saying they will prevent students from being ostracized for having lice and will help to keep them in the classroom.
Others, including parents, debated the decision on Facebook.
“People need to know,” wrote Cala Jones. “Those kids are around other kids all day passing it back and forth.”
Glenda Sublett agreed that parents need to know, and she wrote that treatment can get expensive, “especially when it keeps recurring.”
“Lice isn’t that big of a deal,” wrote Kimberly Meyer after the Haysville story broke. “It doesn’t spread disease or any harm to health.”
Haysville’s new policies aren’t unusual, and they reflect a push to remove the stigma from the infestations.
The Lee’s Summit School District does not conduct classroom screenings after a case of lice is identified, according to district policy last revised in 2011.
And letters are not sent to parents to inform them when lice is found in a student’s hair, district spokeswoman Janice Phelan said.
The Raymore School District, however, does send out classroom-wide notifications.
“If head lice are discovered at school, we notify the parents/guardians of the child,” said district spokeswoman Michele Stidham. “We send a notification to parents of other children in the same class.”
In Holden, Mo., parents were angered with the local district last year when an outbreak of lice in a school led parents to learn that children with nits (lice eggs) are allowed to remain in the classroom.
Holden officials explained that the burden of missing school outweighed potential risks of lice, according to Fox4.
Such policies are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Its recommended policy, last updated in 2015, stated that “a healthy child should not be restricted from attending school because of head lice or nits.”
Instead, the AAP recommends allowing students to finish out the school day and then receive treatment.
“It is important to remember that head lice is a nuisance, not a serious disease or a sign of poor hygiene,” the policy stated.
The best way to check for lice, according to the AAP, is for parents to inspect their children at home.
Over-the-counter shampoos called pediculicides are recommended for treatment by WebMD.