Laxer policies at elementary schools around the country are making it easier for students to get lice and give it to other students.
The Daily Caller is not making this up.
Schools in several states including Tennessee, California and Florida adopted a new policy that lets children with lice quietly go home after school, perhaps receive effective treatment, then return to school the next day.
The old “lice note” for every parent is a thing of the past at these schools, reports CBS News. School nurses no longer send such notes out of concerns that children with lice might be ashamed or suffer violations of privacy. The lice-ridden kids also won’t be forced to miss school.
The American Academy of Pediatrics implemented this “do not exclude” recommendation in 2010. The National Association of School Nurses followed suit in 2011, advising that lice-infested children stay in class and try their darnedest not to touch anybody with their heads. Meanwhile, nurses are supposed to call parents to discuss treatment options.
The medical term for head lice is pediculosis. It’s an itchy invasion of tiny blood-feeding insects and their multitude of eggs. Lice spreads through head-to-head contact and by contact with things that touch heads—like combs, hats and towels.
Deborah Pontius, a school nurse in Lovelock, Nev., observes that a child may have contracted the critters two or three weeks before reporting symptoms. She argues that there is often little risk of exposure at that point because kids have already been exposed.
“Lice is icky, but it’s not dangerous,” Pontius told CBS News. “It’s not infectious, and it’s fairly easy to treat.”
In Pontius’s estimation, parents should be checking their kids for lice once a week as a general rule.
A lot of parents aren’t happy with these laxer lice policies—especially parents where there have been lice outbreaks.
“I’m appalled. I am just so disgusted,” parent Theresa Rice told CBS.
Rice’s eight-year-old daughter goes to school in Hamilton County, Tenn. and has contracted lice three times since August.
The concerned mom detailed the painstaking, revolting process of picking lice eggs — called nits — out of her daughter’s long hair.
The National Pediculosis Association — the lice lobby, if you will — stands athwart the spread of permissive lice policies.
“The new lice policy throws parental values for wellness and children’s health under the bus,” Deborah Altschuler, head of the Massachusetts -based group, told CBS. “It fosters complacency about head lice by minimizing its importance as a communicable parasitic disease.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates some 6 million to 12 million cases of lice among kids between the ages of three and 11 annually.