The policy is stated as, "It is the policy of the School District of Lee County to control the spread of pediculosis among school age children with minimal interruption of the learning process. Screening for pediculosis is necessary only when infestation of live lice or nits are identified on an individual student or at the request of the school principal.If live lice or nits are found, the child's parents should be notified. The child is not to return to school until the hair is treated and all nits are removed."
While several schools across the country are moving toward allowing children with nits to remain in school, Lee County has stood firm on this policy. The district has the support of the National Pediculosis Association (NPA) in Massachusetts, which is opposed to relaxing bans on lice and points to more lenient policies as a cause for spreading lice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics updated guidelines in 2010 to adopt a "do not exclude" infested students recommendation for schools dealing with head lice. The National Association of School Nurses changed its policy to be in line with this more lenient stance in 2010. The school nurse association recommended that children found with live head lice should remain in class but be discouraged from close direct head contact with others. As a result of recommendations from these key medical associations, many schools have loosened their policies, now allowing students with nits, and even occasionally lice, to enter school.
Not everyone in the district is behind the current policy. One elementary school nurse states, "Kids miss too much school on account of head lice, which is not a disease. Healthy kids should be in school. Also, by the time a child is diagnosed with lice, they have likely been in school for weeks so why arbitrarily pull them out of school at that point? Also, nits are not transferrable. What is needed is education; parents need to know how lice are spread, what lice and nits look like, how to prevent lice, and how to kill lice.
Wendy Beck, owner of LiceDoctors, explains that there are pros and cons to retaining "no nit" policies. "We understand the need for children to be in the classroom. In some cases, parents keep trying to remove the nits and fail and their kids miss a lot of school. Alternatively, when parents spend money and time and succeed in killling lice and getting rid of nits, they do not want their kids re-infested from a classmate who still has an active case."
It is likely that this policy will be debated in Lee County and across the country as parents and schools continue to battle the head lice dilemma.
LiceDoctors treats families in Fort Myers and surrounding areas in the comfort of their homes. The company has treated 30,000 families, has a medical director on staff, and carries the BBB seal of approval. To contact LiceDoctors in Fort Myers, call 239-305-8819 or go to www.licedoctors.com.