Head Lice Procedure
Forest Lake Area Schools procedure for treating students with head lice better aligns our practice with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN).
What is the procedure for students with lice?
If your child has active lice in school, the health office nurse will contact you. You will be asked to pick up your child from school and treat him or her for lice. When your child’s hair and scalp are free from active lice, they may return to the classroom. Your child does not need to be free of nits (lice eggs) prior to returning to class. To respect confidentiality, parents of unaffected children in the school will not be notified.
What was the previous practice?
While there was no formal policy, if your child had lice he or she would previously not have been allowed to return to school until the hair and scalp were completely nit free. This practice is no longer recommended by the AAP or the NASN. It has been found to be an unnecessary loss of learning time for the student and loss of work time for the parent or caregiver.
Previously, parents of other students in your child’s classroom would have received a note informing them that someone in the class had head lice. In order to protect your child’s privacy and avoid unnecessary stigma, this practice will no longer occur.
What is the reasoning for this change?
Both the AAP and 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 non-medical personnel.
Key facts to know about Head Lice:
• Getting head lice is not related to cleanliness of the person or his or her environment.
• Head lice should not be considered a medical or public health hazard. Head lice are not known to spread disease. Sometimes itching can lead to excessive scratching which can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.
• Head lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk.
• Spreading lice by contact with clothing (such as hats, scarves, coats) or other personal items (such as combs, brushes, or towels) used by an infested person is uncommon.