San Diego, CA, January 10, 2014 --(PR.com
)-- A new trend is creeping across the country; schools are dropping their “no nit” lice policies. As little as five years ago, almost every school district in the country had a “no nit” policy in place, which prevents children with lice eggs from returnint to school until they have eliminated the case. According to Karen Sokoloff, owner of national head lice service, LiceDoctors, "Now the majority of clients we treat are in schools that have dropped their 'no nit' policies. This is a radical shift from what we have seen historically.” The reason for this sea change stems from revised recommendations from three key medical organizations: the Center for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of School Nurses. All three of these groups now recommend that children with nits be allowed to remain in school. They even go so far as to suggest that children with live lice be permitted to remain in class until the end of the day at which point they should be sent home to be treated
Definitions of Policies
There are basically three types of policies: no nit, nits allowed, and live lice allowed. Some districts have more ambiguous policies that combine two of the above.
A “no nit” policy means that children are not allowed in school with any nits (lice eggs) in the hair. In reality, there is some variation: some school nurses will actually pick out a few nits if that is all that they see and allow the child to stay in school. Other nurses will see one nit and send the child home. The latter is the exception rather than the rule.
A “no live lice” policy means that children with nits may stay in school, however, students with live bugs will be sent home. Again, there is room for interpretation of this rule. In some schools, the child with live bugs will be allowed to remain in school until the end of the school day and then will be sent home to be treated and not allowed back to school until all live lice have been killed. In other cases, children with live bugs will be sent home immediately for treatment. A third interpretation of this policy is that children with live bugs and nits within a quarter of an inch from the scalp will be sent home as these cases are deemed “active.” Children with nits farther from the scalp are allowed to remain in school.
Then there is the third policy, which is the most lenient of all: children with live lice and nits are permitted to remain in school. While many schools educate parents and students about head lice, the schools with very liberal policies place a special emphasis on education to try to prevent and contain head lice.
Reasons for Trend Away from “No Nit” Policies
The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advocate that “no-nit” policies should be discontinued. Some of the reasons are as follow:
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.
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 can not be transferred successfully to other people.
It usually takes a few weeks for a case of head lice to be diagnosed during which time the child has been in contact with other children.
The AAP policy states, “Because a child with an active head lice infestation likely has had the infestation for 1 month or more by the time it is discovered and poses little risk to others from the infestation, he or she should remain in class but be discouraged from close direct head contact with others… A child should not be restricted from school attendance because of lice, because head lice have low contagion within classrooms. Some schools have had “no-nit” policies under which a child was not allowed to return to school until all nits were removed. However, most researchers agree that no-nit policies should be abandoned…Numerous anecdotal reports exist of children missing weeks of school and even being forced to repeat a grade because of head lice.”
It is expected that this trend will continue with schools becoming more lenient with respect to children's attendance with nits and even lice. According to Sokoloff, "The school nurses with whom we have spoken report that there has not been an increase in the incidence of head lice with these new policies. As long as that is the case, it is likely that we will continue to see more schools drop their 'no nit' policies."
LiceDoctors treats families in San Diego as well as in 60 additional areas throughout California and across the U.S. For same day service in the San Diego vicinity, call 858-939-9202 or go to www.licedoctors.com.