Ind. woman wants change in school's lice policy 

A southern Indiana woman is challenging her local school district's head lice policy, saying her daughter has faced repeat infestations of the tiny bloodsucking bugs because the district's lice rules aren't strict enough.

Four years ago, the Monroe County Community School Corp. began allowing children with nits — or lice eggs — to stay in school in response to a growing number of districts that have adopted the same public health policy.

But parent Crystal Carter is circulating a petition among parents in her daughter's elementary school in hopes that the district will create a stricter policy when it comes to head lice.

Carter tells the Herald-Times ( ) that she's fed up with her daughter continuing to contract head lice — a reoccurrence she believes comes from her daughter's school and what she calls a too-lax policy. She said children simply should not be allowed in school if they have any kind of lice.

"My complaint is they are letting children sit in the classroom with nits," Carter said. "No one knows when they are going to hatch. This is affecting my children."

Becky Rose, the school district's director of Student Services, said she understands parents' concerns. But Rose said that since lice do not carry any disease and are treatable, there's no real reason to exclude students from school if they are carrying nits.

"When the policy changed, there were lots of parents making complaints but that has decreased because they understand this is the way all school districts are moving," she said. "It is more detrimental to have students out of school."

Rose said district social workers also help make resources available to families who have trouble affording lice kits.

Lice are tiny grayish-white bugs that infest a scalp, sucking tiny amounts of blood every few hours. Itching results from the saliva they inject as an anticoagulant. They can be spread from head-to-head contact or sharing brushes, hats and pillows.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses have long recommended that students with nits, and most recently students with live head lice, be allowed to stay in class.

"Children found with live head lice should remain in class, but be discouraged from close direct head contact with others," according to a statement by the National Association of School Nurses.

Amy Thomas, health assistant at the district's Edgewood Primary School, also understands parents' frustration with the policy, but she said she hasn't seen an increase in cases of head lice since the policy changed.

This year, Thomas said she has sent eight children home from the primary school because of lice.

"The thing with lice, they are a nuisance," she said. "They don't harbor disease, they are just a nuisance, a very expensive nuisance."

Thomas said parents can be proactive by checking their child's head periodically for lice.

When it comes to treating lice, Thomas said parents should remember to treat the entire house and car, not just the student's head. She said expensive treatments are not always necessary.

"A vacuum and the dryer can be your best friend," Thomas said.


Information from: The Herald Times,

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