On July 2011, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) amended its policy with regard to the management of head lice infestations (pediculosis). Prior to that date the DOH rules (Rule 1200-14-01-.24 – required that children with nits be excluded from “any public, private, or church-related school, day care or head start authorities to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for handling infestations of head lice and scabies.” SBE Rule 0520-12-01-.10(10)(b) stated that “Children diagnosed with scabies or lice shall have proof of treatment and be free of nits prior to re-admission.”
The July 2011 amendment dropped the words “free of nits prior to re-admission.”
“The updated TDOH rules remove the requirement that the child be free of nits prior to re-admission provided he/she provides proof of treatment. To be in compliance with U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines the 0520-12-01-.10(10)(b) should be revised as follows: “Children diagnosed with scabies or lice shall have proof of treatment prior to re- admission.”
New Policy Allows Students With Nits To Return to School After Treatment
With the new policy in place, schools in Hamilton County, Tennessee, home of Chattanooga and neighboring towns, now allow students with nits to return to school after treatment. In addition, children with live lice may remain in school until the end of the school day in accordance with the newest guidelines issued by Tennessee Department of Education, American Association of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bradley School District Lice Policy
Nearby Bradley School District follows the same protocol. If a child has nits, he or she should be treated and then may return to school even if some nits remain in the hair. The rationale behind this recommendation is that by the time a child is diagnosed with nits, he or she has been in the classroom for ample time to transmit lice to other students. Keeping a child home with nits is too little too late and results in too much absenteeism is the thinking behind this change.
Catoosa County School District Lice Policy
In neighboring Catoosa County, the district also maintains a lenient lice policy following the guidelines issued by the CDC. Kathy Black, school nurse in the district, says that she has not seen an increase in the incidence of head lice since the new rules went into effect.
Not everyone is behind the change. The National Pediculosis Association in Newton, Massachusetts advocates against dropping no nit policies as they say that without this policy in place, the incidence of head lice will rise.
Related Links:Learn About Our Chattanooga Lice Treatment Service