As a parent, it’s your right to know the policies and procedures at your child’s school, including the head lice policies. The Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky School Board Association back up recommendations by the American Pediatric Association and the Center For Disease Control (CDC). Because of this, schools have dropped their “no-nit” policies. Children no longer have to miss school because of lice or nits.
“Students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day, be treated, and return to class after appropriate treatment has begun. Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.
Head lice can be a nuisance but they have not been shown to spread disease. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) advocate that “no-nit” policies should be discontinued. “No-nit” policies that require a child to be free of nits before they can return to schools should be discontinued for the following reasons:
Many nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may, in fact, be empty shells, also known as ‘casings’.
Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.
The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.
Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by nonmedical personnel”
However, different districts around Lexington have varying head lice policies, so we encourage parents to have a clear idea of their child’s school policies and procedures.
Lexington-Fayette County Schools
Their district policy states:
“School personnel shall actively pursue the prevention and control of head lice in the District’s schools by developing a consistent education, screening and follow-up program for all students. Principals and school personnel trained to identify live lice shall adhere to the following guidelines:
- When students are observed/reported to have live head lice any time during the school year:
a. Playmates closely associated with the student and possibly siblings of the student that attend the same school may be checked for live lice, which are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as crawling lice. In general, school-wide checks are not necessary.
b. Parents of each student identified as having live lice will be contacted by a school/District representative advising them of the finding. Parents may be asked to pick up the child for treatment.
- Principals or school/District personnel shall offer parents of students identified as having live lice:
a. Visual evidence of live lice in the student’s hair.
b. Verbal and/or written information/direction for hair treatment and household procedures.
- In most cases, students should not be excluded from school. However, in all instances when personnel identify live lice, they shall confirm with the student and/or parent/guardian that the following have occurred:
a. The parent/guardian has combed the student’s hair with an actual lice/nit comb or
applied special lice killing shampoo on the same or next day.
b. When the student returned to school after treatment, designated school personnel
rechecked the student before s/he returned to the classroom. If live lice remained, steps 2 and 3 above were re-established.
- School personnel shall follow up with students found with a second and subsequent cases of live head lice to assure that:
a. Prescribed medical treatment for live lice has been applied to the student’s hair no later than the next day.
b. Any second application required is applied within the recommended time frame.
- The Superintendent/designee shall:
a. Establish education/information programs on head lice control methods for school
personnel, community members, students and parents.
b. Provide each school with written materials on head lice control and prevention.”
We hope these policies are helpful to you. As a paren, it’s a good idea to know these policies ahead of time so there are no surpirses when an incident does occur.