The rationale behind the revised recommendations by these groups is that too many students were missing too many days of schools for something that is a nuisance but not an illness. In addition. the American Academy of Pediatrics states that by the time a case is identified, ususally a couple of weeks have gone by giving the child ample opportunity to spread lice to his or her friends.
This trend has been met with mixed reviews from school nurses across the region. Amy Wald, Health Services Coordinator for the Lee's Summit School District is pleased with the more lenient head lice policy of her district. "Too many children were missing several days of school. I am way more concerned with children who have communicable sicknesses than about this." Ms. Wald says that now that the district allows students with some nits to remain in school, there has not been an increase in the incidence of head lice. Lee's Summit dropped its "no nit" policy two years ago.
In the St. Joseph School Distirct, schools also have dropped thier "no nit" policy. According to one elementary school nurse, "we are trying to get to the point where we totally follow recommendations of the CDC which suggest that schools allow children with live bugs into school. We are not there yet but we generally do not send kids home unless they are infested with lice and nits." This nurse went on to voice the opinion of several of her colleagues, "Kids need to be in school. If I find bugs or nits, I will try to remove them if possible. I want them in the classroom. I had a child who missed 20 days of school before we loosened our criteria. It's not fair to the kids. Not all parents can get rid of lice or even know what lice and nits look like. Some try home remedies for lice removal or chemical lice medications that don't work. When I started here in this district it was a "no nit" policy district.
Not every nurse is in favor of looser standards for admission for kids with head lice. A high school nurse in Kansas City said, "Especially in the lower grades, kids are always touching each other which encourages lice transmission. If you let kids with lice and nits into school, you will have classes that are loaded with head lice. Dropping "no nit" policies is ludicrous; the lice infestation will just get worse." Dr. Tonia Gilbert, Executive Director of Office of Student Support and Communtiy Services, reports that Kansas City schools are in the process of updating their lice policy. They are currently getting feedback from nurses and parents, in light of the recommendations of the CDC and National School Nurses Association.
The debate on the topic of head lice is likely to continue according to Karen Sokoloff, owner of LiceDoctors Head Lice Treatment and Nit Removal Service. "There are reasonable arguments to be made both in favor and against 'no nit" policies. While all children should be in school, parents who have invested time and money into successfully removing nits from their children's hair, are understandibly worried about their child being renfested. An important point is that nits are not contagious, but it is very important for students with nits to be treated with a follow-up plan."
To become educatied about head lice, visit LiceDoctors' web site at www.licedoctors.com. LiceDoctors has an in-home lice treatment service that has successfully treated nearly 30,000 families using a natural lice treatment plan developed by their board-certified medical director 18 years ago. The company has the Better Business Bureau Seal of Approval and can be contact in Kansas City at 816-226-6351.