While many school districts across the U.S. have dropped their “no nit” lice policies, most schools in the Baton Rouge area still have “no nit” policies, which means that if a student returns to school with nits or lice eggs he or she will not be admitted. The rationale behind the trend away from “no nit” policies that is seen in other districts outside of the Baton Rouge area comes 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 groups now advocate that children with nits be permitted to return to school after treatment. These organizations state that “no-nit” policies should be discontinued for the following reasons:
- Nits are glued to the hair and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.
- The problem of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities is worse than the risks associated with head lice.
On the opposite side of the debate is the advocacy group, National Pediculosis Association in Newton, MA. They support the “no nit” policies of Baton Rouge because they maintain that allowing children into school with head lice or nits encourages the spread from one student to another. From the Louisiana Office of Public Health The Louisiana Office of Public Health recommends that schools follow the advice of the aforementioned medical associations, but, in fact, the majority of Baton Rouge area schools retain their "no nit" policies. The Office of Public Health states, "Exclusion: Children should be allowed to return to school or child care center the morning after their first treatment. Avoid physical contact with infested individuals and their belongings, especially clothing and bedding.Regular direct inspection of all primary school children for head lice and when indicated, of body and clothing, particularly of children in schools, institutions, nursing homes and summer camps.If the school requests information on head lice that can be sent home to the parents, see attached sample letter. Note: This letter to parents is to be sent out on the school letterhead and not sent by the health department. Some school systems have adopted a nit-free policy to eliminate the confusion over lice and dead nits. This is not in agreement with the state policy. The nurse’s role includes: Instructing teachers, principals, school nurses or other designated persons how to examine for head lice. (This should include the use of separate tongue blades per child to part the hair and inspect the scalp.) Providing the most up-to-date information concerning control measures. Be available for consultation and/or home visits regarding problem situations, (families who become repeatedly infested). In repeated infestation problems, particularly at schools that do not have a school nurse, the public health nurse should offer to visit the institution and inspect for deficiencies that may contribute to prolonging the occurrence of the infestation (i.e., mats or rugs used by young children for naps may be shared unwittingly and if not being cleaned or vacuumed, may harbor live lice)." More information: new.dhh.louisiana.gov
Baton Rouge Schools Lice Policy
"Students will be checked periodically for head lice. Students will be sent home immediately if school personnel suspect lice in his/her hair. The students MAY NOT return to school until treatment has been administered and all nits have been removed from the hair. Upon returning to school, the student will be checked to determine if any nits are still present before admission to class. To prevent an outbreak of head lice, parents are asked to examine the hair of their children weekly, and shampoo frequently. More information: sbrcharter.org
Our Lady Of Mercy School
"The school has a nit-free policy concerning head lice. Parents are obligated to follow school protocol in the event their child contracts head lice. Children who have contracted head lice must be treated and be free of lice and nits and cleared by a trained staff member at school before returning to the classroom. Upon returning a child to school, the parent must certify: 1) that the child has been successfully treated; 2) that the child is nit free, and 3) their agreement to repeat the treatment in 7 to 10 days (due to the life cycle for nits to hatch). Parents are encouraged to check for lice and nits on a regular basis." More information: www.olomschool.org
Runnels Independent School
"Typically lice or pediculosis infestation in school occurs after long break periods. Usually, we will see infestation in lower elementary at the beginning of school and after long breaks like Christmas, Mardi Gras and Spring break. Please be aware that virtually no one is exempt from this parasite. As you know, a parasite needs a host. And this parasite does not discriminate! An infestation is not a sign of cleanliness or social status. If your child becomes infested, he/she may not return to school until effectively treated and nit free. When you think your child is nit free, accompany your child to the clinic for a lice check to ensure that no viable eggs are present. Also, please check other household family members and treat as necessary to prevent further spread." More information: www.runnels.org
"It is the policy of the Board to exclude from the City of Baker District Schools any student suspected of having symptoms of head lice until satisfactory treatment has been given, or a statement from a medical source can be presented, stating treatment is not necessary. If treatment is necessary, the student will be readmitted to school if a letter from the parent or guardian is presented stating treatment has been administered, and if lice and/or eggs are no longer present." More information: bakerschools.org
"Livingston Parish Public Schools will exclude any student suspected of having symptoms of head lice until satisfactory treatment has been given. The student shall be readmitted to school after the parent or guardian has treated the child, and all lice and eggs have been removed. Students who have been treated for lice must be brought to school by the parents and rechecked by school personnel before they are allowed to enter a class. It is recommended that your check your child on a regular basis for signs of head lice. You can find information on headlice on the LPPS website and the internet." More information: masters535.com
"Any student found to have positive evidence of head lice/nits will be excluded from school and school bus until he/she has been effectively treated with a medicate3d lice shampoo and ALL NITS (eggs) have been removed from the hair. Student will be excused from school the day they are sent home and the next day only. All other days missed will be unexcused absences from school. Proof of treatment must be given to the school nurse or trained staff upon readmission to school and the school nurse or trained staff will check students to be sure that the hair is free of all lice and nits before readmitting them to school. Students must be accompanied to school be parent, guardian, or responsible party prior to readmission; they will not be allowed to ride the bus. Student’s will only be excused for 2 episodes per year: An episode includes: diagnosis treatment and recheck in 7-10 days. If a student is found to have lice again within this 7-10 day time period, it is considered the same episode and the same protocol will be followed:
- If the student is free from nits/lice on the 7-10 day recheck, the episode is ended.
- After the 2nd episode, a meeting with parent/guardian and administration may be held to discuss problems with recurrent lice infestation.
Continued absences because of lice infestation may be referred to the Supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance and possible notification of the Office of Child Services (OCS)." More information: www.ipsb.net
Central Schools Lice Policy
Central School District, unlike the above school districts, no longer has a "no nit" policy and follows the recommendations of the CDC and American Association of Pediatrics. "Students with active infestations, defined as the presence of live lice or nits confirmed by school nurse or trained designated school staff will be sent home from school. Parents will be given a letter defining CCSD recommendations for treatment, and procedure for student to return to school. Students with active infestations defined as nits within 1⁄4 inch of the scalp confirmed by the school nurse or trained designated school staff will be sent home at the end of the school day with instructional letter to parent recommending treatment procedures for student to return to school. If infested with head lice the following procedures should be followed:
- Notify the school nurse by phone or email.
- The child will be assessed by the school nurse, or trained designated staff member for the presence of active lice infestation.
- The child will be assessed within a reasonable timeline and triaged according to needs within the school district. It is important to remember that immediate removal of the child is unnecessary. If, the child has lice they have likely had them for weeks. It is important that the child’s privacy is maintained to prevent undue social stress."
More information: www.centralcss.org School districts reassess their lice policies from time to time, so be sure to contact your school nurse to be sure you know the school's most up-to-date lice policy. If you find head lice in your child, call LiceDoctors at 225-407-9603 for same day, in-home professional lice treatment.