The National Pediculosis Association recommends a stringent “nit-free” policy for children returning to school after a lice infestation, according to its Web site, www.headlice.org. The association says that because head lice are becoming resistant to insecticide shampoos. It’s important to remove any remaining nits with a special fine-toothed comb before letting a child return to school.”
The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools System in Davidson County has a “no nit” policy.” Children with lice or nits may not attend school. Before a student can be re-admitted to school, a statement of treatment from a health care provider must be submitted. Parents will be allowed three (3) days to rid their child(ren) of head lice.” It is unclear what happens if the children are not lice-free within the stipulated three days.
In nearby Wilson County, the schools also follow a “no nit” policy. Parents are also given 3 days to get their kids cleared up. During that time, the child’s absence will be considered valid or excused. After that time period, the absence is marked as unexcused. The county school absentee policy is reported on the web site as: “written documentation supporting reasons for absences must be submitted to school level principals within three (3) school days. Even though a parent may phone the school, a written notice must also be sent to the school. Written documentation shall include the reason for absence, date, parent signature, and phone number. After that time period has elapsed, the absences will become permanently unexcused.”
In Rutherford County, the schools also maintain a “no nit” policy. Some parents complain because while the district policy regarding readmission to school is strict, the schools do not send a note home to parents to inform them of an outbreak at school. In Murfreesboro, parents contacted Channel 4 News to express their dissatisfaction with the schools for not keeping them apprised of lice outbreaks.
A representative of the Tennessee Department of Health agreed with parents on this point of view stating, “Lice are a parasitic insect, and they are a nuisance in the school setting. So, just some advice about how to treat head lice and how to identify head lice – that would be good information for the schools to send home to parents when there is a problem with head lice in the school.” Parents reason that they want to know to look out for it, take simple precautions and possibly educate themselves about different treatment options available, rather than just find lice on their child’s head one day.
Consistent with the other counties that neighbor Nashville’s Davidson County, Sumner County Schools have a “No Nit” policy. Under this policy, “students identified with Pediculosis (head lice) will not be allowed back in school until they are nit free and have a signed statement by a health official (i.e., nurse, doctor, Health Department, etc.). Students in each classroom will be checked periodically for head lice. Students found with head lice will be sent home immediately.” The district web site goes on to warn,
· “Head lice are a world wide problem. Please check your child often.
· Never wear someone else’s cap or use another student’s comb or brush”
Nearby Williamson County also maintains a “no nit policy” and states “It shall be the duty of the school authorities to exclude from any public, private, or church-related school any child who is infected with or suspected of having….pediculosis (head lice)…Pediculosis (head lice) is a communicable disease and falls under the Tennessee Department of Health Communicable Disease Regulations. To help prevent the spread of head lice, the following steps should be taken:
- From time-to-time students may need to be checked at school for head lice. This will be done according to procedures established at each individual school.
- When lice or nits are found to be present in a child’s hair the parent is to be contacted and informed how to care for this problem.
- A student found with head lice or nits shall immediately be separated from the rest of the students and sent home with the parent.”
- Students in Williamson County will be checked one week and two weeks later to ensure that the child is still “nit free”.
- Whereas many districts across the U.S. are tossing out the “no nit” policy thereby following the recommendation of the American Association of Pediatricians, the Nashville area has steadfastly maintained it. If you have any questions regarding your school’s lice policy, call your school nurse for more details.