Today Show Reports Kids With Lice Should Stay In School

We saw a report on NBC’s Today show this morning that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that kids with nits should stay in school. Click here to see the interview of Dr. Natalie Azar

This is not a new recommendation. The recommendation for kids to stay in school with lice and nits (lice eggs) first came out in the summer of 2010 by The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) report here.

Okay, but where’s the education to back up these recommendations to support these new policies. While we agree lice is not a medical issue and not harmful, a combination of a lack of education along with wide spread product failure, contributes to the exponential rise in head lice cases. If parents and children are provided a good and practical education program when their oldest child enters school in kindergarten or first grade, then we can establish a sense of control over future lice outbreaks. Education and familiarity are the keys to replace fear and over-reaction.

While we agree that lice do not spread in a structured classroom setting, they do have the potential to spread during unstructured time in school. This can occur on the bus, at lunch, recess, gym, and less structured classroom activities. We are not a lice fear mongers — just lice educators with a passion to make a difference in the

Weekly Lice Head Check

Best lice control is weekly combing head checks.

unproductive stigma surrounding head lice. Lice are easy to defeat with a general understanding of lice and regular combing head checks.

Keep in mind lice are not a medical issue they are just a social one. Doctors only know how to write a prescription. They don’t want a patient to come into the office with lice. So they often write the prescription over the phone. We have treated many pediatricians’ families. Until they experience lice in their own family they do not have a true understanding of what it’s about.

These “new” guidelines are put in place to reduce absenteeism in schools, which directly affects the school budgets. Parents have been freaking out about these new recommendations for the past 5 years as they are introduced to school districts around the country. In many areas, the parents hoot and holler until the no nit policy is put back into effect.

So the parents rely on the school administration to control the lice outbreaks with mediocre detection and treatment information and by doing in-school head checks. But the new policy recommends that kids remain in school with lice and no head checks are necessary. That can be frustrating!

The answer is that lice control is the family’s responsibility and it starts with all the families being educated on lice detection and a good safe treatment plans, starting with regular (weekly) combing head checks at home.