The following information was sent out in The School Nurse Bulletin to all Connecticut school nurses in September 2010: “Head lice infestation is associated with limited morbidity, but causes a high level of anxiety among parents of school-aged children. Since the 2002 clinical report on head lice was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), patterns of resistance to products available over-the-counter and by prescription have changed, and additional mechanical means of removing head lice have been explored. This revised clinical report clarifies current diagnosis and treatment protocols and provides guidance for the management of children with head lice in the school setting.
Summary of Key Points: No healthy child should be excluded from or allowed to miss school time because of head lice. No-nit policies for return to school should be abandoned.”
Many Fairfield County Connecticut Schools Are Loosening Criteria
Several Fairfield County schools have loosened their criteria regarding admission to school. Some schools have a somewhat ambiguous policy, relying heavily on the nurse’s discretion. For example Greenwich, Connecticut has the following policy: “Greenwich Public Schools, in agreement with the Harvard School of Public Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of School Nurses, recognizes that the management of head lice should not disrupt the educational process, especially since no disease process is associated with head lice.
Further best practice suggests that regular head lice screening in schools does little to reduce the incidence of head lice. Rather it is more important that parents regularly inspect their child for head lice, perhaps at the same time they inspect their child for the presence of deer ticks, a far more serious threat to their child’s health.
Further, as we all know, all health information regarding students is absolutely confidential, and the student’s privacy must be respected. Therefore, any child who exhibits any symptoms of head lice should be referred to the school nurse who will work with the student’s parents to care for the child and avoid further cases.”
More information: www.greenwichschools.org
Stamford School District
Stamford School District states on its website, “Please notify the staff if your child has been exposed to: Head Lice – child may return after one treatment AND the child has been checked by the nurse before he/she returns to class.”
More information: www.westovermagnet.org
Westport Public Schools
“Westport Public Schools relies on current standards in public health and scientific research to guide its practices related to communicable disease and infestation. Current public health standards and research-based recommendations indicate that, to effectively control head lice, routine screening and management at home are the key factors. Head lice do not cause disease and, when first identified on a head, have usually been resident there for a few weeks. They are very annoying and can sometimes be difficult to get rid of, but they are not dangerous. Head lice are usually well-controlled when managed through mechanical or chemical means, or a combination of both, and appropriate housekeeping techniques (see attached information).
In keeping with current standards and research, mass screenings for head lice are no longer conducted in our schools. Rather, our emphasis is on prevention through parental education, and home-school communication and collaboration. Not only are mass screenings relatively ineffective, but they cause students to lose a significant amount of educational time in the classroom, often result in misdiagnosed cases, and lead to considerable stigma for children who are sent home in the middle of the school day.
Please remember that rapid communication is the most critical element to prevent the spread of head lice at school, at sleepovers and at other community activities. Therefore, should your child become infested with head lice, please inform the school nurse immediately so that she can alert families in your child’s class to increase their vigilance and screenings at home. The information you provide is confidential and the names of affected students are never shared with other families. If all families communicate with the school nurse in this way, and if the school nurse in turn alerts families in general to be more vigilant, we can prevent unnecessary spread of this difficult pest.”
More information: www.westport.k12.ct.us
Darien Public Schools
In Darien the following policy is in place, “Since head lice is a common childhood condition, there are likely to be some cases noted during the school year. Head lice is easily transmitted via shared objects (combs, hats, etc.) It is a condition which is not associated with poor hygiene. Nonetheless, the presence of lice can be unsettling.
Therefore, please be assured that it will be handled with discretion and sensitivity. All children will be screened within the first weeks of school. If an infestation is noted, you will be notified immediately and the child will be excluded from school.
Following treatment with a specific shampoo and the removal of nits (egg cases), the child will be re- admitted (usually within a day). The entire class will be screened and monitored during the following month. Most shampoos claim to be 100% effective, but we have found that this is very often not the case. Removing all the nits is the singularly most effective way to avoid the recurrent infestation as residual nits may contain viable lice.”
More information: www.darienps.org
Danbury, New Milford and Region 12 schools
“In Danbury, New Milford and Region 12 schools, the parent or guardian is notified if a child is seen to have head lice. But while siblings of that child will be checked for head lice, his classmates will not.
In Danbury and Region 12, which includes Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, it is left to parents to notify parents of infected children’s playmates.
Kathy O’Dowd, health and nursing services coordinator for Danbury schools, said head lice are dealt with “on a case-by-case basis.”
“No notice will be sent home to classmates’ parents unless three or more children in a class are infected,” O’Dowd said. “A blanketwide school notice only leads parents to over-treat children who do not require treatment.”
Infected children will not be sent home in the middle of a school day in any of these districts, but they must be treated before returning to school. None of these districts follow a no-nit policy, but returning students are rechecked in seven to 10 days for live lice.”
More information: www.newstimes.com
Some Schools Maintain Stricter Policies
Despite the recommendation by the AAP, a few schools in Connecticut are a bit stricter regarding admission to school with nits.
“Brookfield excludes infested children from school, and a parent or guardian must accompany a child back to school after being treated. There must be “a significant reduction of nits” for the child to return to the classroom.
Kent Center School will bar a student from attendance until the child is nit-free. In Ridgefield, children are barred from class until no live nits can be seen.
In New Milford, the policy is actually being tightened to require a letter be sent to parents of all children in an elementary classroom when one child is infected, said Laura Olson, director of pupil services.”
More information: www.newstimes.com
Each school district has its own head lice policy. Your school district may have to completely different policy from the district next door. To understand your district head lice policy you should call your school nurse or check out the district website.
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