Some schools altering policies regarding mandatory absence for head lice

The Washington Post points out in its “Answer Sheet” blog that children with head lice are usually kept out of the classroom until the issue is resolved, but a number of schools across the nation are changing such policies. Many health and school officials believe that “kids actually are contagious well before anyone realizes they have lice, so the damage has already been done.” The National Association of School Nurses and the American Association of Pediatrics also adhere to this new line of thinking … as does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which says “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.” Also, Florida, California, and Tennessee are among the states with what the Daily Caller considers “laxer policies.”

But, not everyone is supportive. For instance, the head of the National Pediculosis Association, Deborah Altschuler, says: “The new lice policy throws parental values for wellness and children’s health under the bus,” and it “fosters complacency about head lice by minimizing its importance as a communicable parasitic disease.” There are also parents who are “appalled” by the trend.

Meanwhile, a school nurse in Nevada told the AP: “Lice is(sic) icky, but it’s not dangerous” and it’s “fairly easy to treat.” The AP goes on to point out that the “policy shift is designed to help keep children from missing class, shield children with lice from embarrassment and protect their privacy.”

Of note, the CDC “estimates there are 6 million to 12 million head lice infestations each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years old.”

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.