According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there is a legal basis for excluding and readmitting children to school in relation to specified diseases and infectious conditions. Provision "27.71 (11) specifically relates to Pediculosis humanis capitis (head lice) and provides for exclusion of students from school (public, private, parochial, Sunday, or other school or college or preschool) who have been diagnosed by a physician or are suspected of having Pediculosis by the school nurse. Exclusion from school is for the period of time until the student is judged noninfectious by the school nurse or by the child’s physician. Provision 27.72 provides for exclusion from school of pupils showing symptoms judged noninfectious. Provision 27.73 provides for readmission to school if the nurse is satisfied that the live infestation is noncommunicable, or when the child presents a certificate of noninfectiousness from a physician." The Pennsylvania Department of Education goes onto suggest that to control lice infestations at school, "When lice are discovered in a classroom, all children should be inspected for active lice. All members of the family of any child found with head lice also need to be checked for lice activity. Some school districts will adopt a “no nit” policy and not allow students back into the classroom with any nits remaining on the hair. Unless the problem is addressed at home, an infestation may recur. Because of increased resistance to prescription and nonprescription treatments, head lice have become more difficult to manage, leading to more pressure on schools to provide treatments. However, schools should not be sprayed to control head lice." Two points are worthy of mention with respect the this statement: 1. It is up to the individual school districts to establish their own lice policies and 2. It is important to note that the Pennsylvania Department of Education is aware of the fact that lice have become resistant to prescription and nonprescription treatments. That is why it is so difficult to treat head lice on your own and why LiceDoctors can be so effective in helping you get rid of your lice infestation. Related links: Pennsylvania Department of Education Pennsylvania Department of Health National Pediculosis Association
Central Bucks County Schools
In 2012, the Central Bucks County school district recommended changes to the current lice policy to reflect standard practice as recommended by the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American School Health Association. According to the district web site, "none of these organizations recommend that all the students in a class where an active case is found be automatically checked for lice. When lice are found on a child at school, the parents will be notified and the school nurse will provide the parent with information on appropriate treatment. Treatment is required and a student who is not appropriately treated may not return to school. Why would these organizations make these recommendations?
- Lice do not cause disease and are not dangerous to children or others.
- By the time lice is discovered the child has usually had them for 3-4 weeks.
- School is not a high risk area for getting lice. Research over the past 10 years has consistently shown that school is rarely the place of lice transmissions. The vast majority of cases of lice are spread by friends and family members.
- The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.
- Lice are only spread through head to head contact. They are much harder to “catch” than the common cold.
- Lice can only crawl; they can neither jump nor fly.
- Lice cause an emotional reaction. The “no ‘nit” policies of the past were based on that reaction not on scientific evidence of how lice were passed."
Marple-Newtown School District
The Marple-Newton school district maintains a policy consistent with the aforementioned district and spells out its school head lice policy as follows: "The American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of School Nurses, Center for Disease Control and the PA Department of Health maintain that head lice are not a health hazard, not a sign of uncleanness, and not responsible for the spread of any disease. Marple Newtown School District Certified School Nurses reviewed the District's head lice practice. Based on current research and clinical reports, MNSD has updated its guidelines for managing nits and lice within the school setting. Our goals are as follows:
- Minimize school absenteeism
- Contain infestations
- Provide health information for treatment and prevention
- Prevent overexposure to potentially hazardous chemicals. Important things to know:
- The management of nits and head lice should not disrupt the educational process.
- A student with live lice will be sent home for treatment. A student may return to school as soon as possible after treatment if s/he has no live lice and has been judged not contagious by the school nurse or a physician.
- A student with nits can remain in or return to school if judged not contagious by the nurse or a physician. The school nurse may exclude a child with repeated infestations or an active infestation with an apparent lack of adequate follow through.
- Any student who was most likely to have had direct head-to-head contact with a student with live lice will be screened, but classroom wide or school wide screening is not merited. Please refer to the National Association of School Nurses Position Statement on Head Lice for further details. www.nasn.org.
- A letter will be sent home to parents when live lice are found in their child's classroom.
Will students be excluded for head lice or nits?
- Students with lice will be sent home for treatment.
- Students with lice will be checked by the school nurse before returning to school.
- Students with an infestation of nits should receive appropriate treatment at home as soon as possible.
- Because no disease process is associated with head lice, schools are not advised to exclude students when nits remain after appropriate lice treatment.
What happens when a child is found to have lice? Studies by the AAP and CDC indicate that screening for live lice has not been proven to have a significant effect on the incidence of head lice in a school community. However, individual students who were most likely to have had direct head-to-head contact with the student with live lice will be checked. A child found with live head lice will be referred to his/her parent/guardian for treatment. The classroom rugs in that child’s classroom will be thoroughly vacuumed. A letter will be sent to parents/guardians in the child’s classroom. What happens when a child is found to have nits? It is recommended that students having 5 or more nits within 1/4" of the scalp be treated as soon as possible. Studies by the AAP and CDC indicate that widespread screening for nits is not an accurate way for predicting which children will become infested, and screening for live lice has not been proven to have a significant effect on the incidence of head lice in a school community." Related Document: www.mnsd.net Resources: aappolicy.aappublications.org www.portal.state.pa.us www.nasn.org LiceDoctors recommends that you check with your local school nurse to sure that you have the most up-to-date information on your school's lice policy.