Los Angeles County Public School Lice Policies Several key medical organizations have recommended that schools drop “no nit” policies and even allow students with live bugs to stay in school until the end of the school day. While some districts in the Los Angeles area follow these recommendations, others have dropped their “no nit” policies but still have “no live lice” policies in place; still others retain “no nit” policies. The recommendations come from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current evidence does not support classroom or school-wide screening for head lice to reduce the number of head lice infestations among school children. Excluding children from school because of head lice is not recommended. Students diagnosed with live head lice should be treated and then be allowed to return to class. “No-nits” policies that require a student to be free of nits before they can return to school are not recommended.”
The California government website sets out guidance on head lice in schools as follows: GUIDANCE ON HEAD LICE PREVENTION AND CONTROL FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND CHILD CARE FACILITIES “The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends that schools and childcare facilities maintain an active educational campaign for parents on the accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of head lice cases to prevent transmission of lice in schools and reduce lost school days due to head lice infestation. Head lice, while a significant social problem, do not transmit disease to humans. Traditionally, head lice policies in schools emphasized that a child infested with head lice could not return to school until no nits were found in their hair (“no-nit” policy). There is no evidence that a no-nit policy prevents or shortens lengths of outbreaks (Pollack et al., 2000, Williams et al., 2001). The American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Nurses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are all opponents of no-nit policies (Frankowski and Weiner, 2002; Schoessler, 2004). Furthermore, the “International Guidelines for Effective Control of Head Louse Infestations” state that “the no nit policy is unjust as it is based on misinformation rather than objective science and should be discontinued.” (Mumcuoglu, 2007) CDPH recommends a no-lice policy. The essential components of a no-lice policy are the following: Early detection of head lice infestations through routine screening by parents and/or caregivers:
- Treatment of children found to have live lice;
- Distribution of educational material to school staff and parents on head lice, nit combing, and treatment such as “A Parent’s Guide to Head Lice” brochure.
There is a lack of evidence showing that routine class or school-wide screening reduces lice infestation rates (Frankowski, 2010). Moreover, many schools now lack the resources to do routine lice checks. Parents should check their children for lice regularly. If lice are seen on a child at school the parents should be called to pick up the child at the end of the school day and be given a copy of the brochure “A Parent’s Guide to Head Lice”. At home, all members of the family must be checked for head lice. This policy allows the parent to treat the child overnight. The day following treatment, the child should be re-examined and admitted to class. If the child is still infested, then the parent should be re-contacted. While classroom or school-wide notification is not recommended after head lice have been detected in a student, this policy is at the discretion of the school nurse or administration.
CHRONIC CASES. If a child is found repeatedly infested with head lice for six consecutive weeks or in three separate months of the school year, the child should be deemed to have a “chronic” head lice case. It is important for schools to identify these children since their continuing infestations may signify other family or socioeconomic problems. These chronic cases should be reported to the school attendance review board and be addressed by a multidisciplinary work group. The work group could consist of representatives from the local health department, social services, the school (district) nurse, and other appropriate individuals to determine the best approach to identifying and resolving the family problems that impact the child’s chronic louse infestation and school attendance.”
Related information: www.cdph.ca.gov
Los Angeles Public Schools
Los Angeles public schools have a “no live head lice” policy; they send children home with live bugs but children with nits may be readmitted after treatment at home. The district web site states, “Communicable disease inspections may be conducted periodically. A student suspected of having a communicable disease will be excluded from school until guidelines for readmission are met. Guidelines for exclusion and readmission follow policies set forth by the school district, the state Department of Health and Department of Education. Guidance in addressing communicable diseases also comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and national organizations. Temporary exclusion of a student from school generally occurs for communicable diseases, including, but not limited to, the following conditions: conjunctivitis (―pink eye‖); skin infections (impetigo), strep throat, chickenpox, scabies, head lice, and pertussis (―whooping cough‖). Exclusion may occur immediately or at the end of the school day, depending on the disease, its communicability and district, county and state policy. Readmission to school is based on condition and appropriate treatment. An effort will be made to notify parents/guardians about school exposure to chickenpox, head lice, or other communicable disease that pose a risk to students.
Related information: notebook.lausd.net
Burbank Public Schools
Burbank schools follow the recommendations of the California site discussed above; in other words, the district maintains a “no live lice” policy. The Board of Education believes that the district's head lice management program should emphasize the correct diagnosis and treatment of head lice in order to minimize disruption of the education process and to reduce the number of student absences resulting from infestation. In consultation with the school nurse, the Superintendent or designee may establish a routine screening program to help prevent the spread of head lice. School employees shall report all suspected cases of head lice to the school nurse or designee as soon as possible. The nurse or designee shall examine the student and other students who are siblings of the affected student or members of the same household. If a student is found with active, adult head lice, he/she shall be excluded from attendance. The parent/guardian of an excluded student shall receive information about recommended treatment procedures and sources of further information. The student shall be allowed to return to school the next day and shall be checked by the nurse or designee before returning to class. Once he/she is determined to be free of lice, the student shall be rechecked weekly for up to six weeks.
Related information: gamutonline.net
Long Beach Public Schools
Like the Los Angeles and Burbank school districts, the Long Beach School District Policy “mandates that a child that is found to have live lice will be dismissed from school. Once the child has been treated with the appropriate shampoo he/she should be rechecked by the school nurse upon return to school.” Children with nits will not be sent home.
Related information: lbsdk12.schoolwires.net
Palmdale Public Schools
While the three aforementioned districts go so far as to allow students with nits to remain in school, they send children with live lice home. Not so in Palmdale schools, which follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). While a child with active head lice is allowed to remain in school until the end of the day, she or he must be treated after school so that live lice are removed. “The Governing Board recognizes that head lice infestations among students require treatment but do not pose a risk of transmitting disease. The Superintendent or designee shall encourage early detection and treatment in a manner that minimizes disruption to the educational program and reduces student absences. The Superintendent or designee may distribute information to parents/guardians of preschool and elementary students regarding routine screening, symptoms, accurate diagnosis, and proper treatment of head lice infestations. The Superintendent or designee also may provide related information to school staff. School employees shall report all suspected cases of head lice to the school nurse or designee as soon as possible. If a student is found with active, adult head lice, he/she shall be allowed to stay in school until the end of the school day. The parent/guardian of any such student shall be given information about the treatment of head lice and encouraged to begin treatment of the student immediately and to check all members of the family. The parent/guardian also shall be informed that the student shall be checked upon return to school the next day and allowed to remain in school if no active head lice are detected. Upon the student's return to school, the school nurse or designee shall check the student for active head lice. If it is determined that the student remains infected with head lice, the school nurse or designee shall contact the student's parent/guardian to discuss treatment. As needed, he/she may provide additional resources and/or referral to the local health department, health care providers, or other agencies.
Related information: www.gamutonline.net
Pasadena Public Schools
In 2012, the Pasadena Public Schools revised their school lice policy and adopted the same policy as stipulated above in the Palmdale schools. Students with live bugs may remain in school until the end of the day and then must be treated. If the child returns to school the next day with live bugs, his parent or guardian will be called to discuss treatment. This policy is considered to be lenient and is keeping with the recommendations of key medical associations.
Related information: pasadenausd.org
Beverly Hills Public Schools
Beverly Hills is the first district that we have come across to switch to a “no lice” policy (in 2013) and then switch back to a “no nit” policy. The school Board of Education unanimously voted to approve a “no nit” policy in 2014. Children with nits will now be sent home from school and will not be re-admitted until they are nit-free.
Related information: bhcourier.com
Santa Monica-Malibu Public Schools
Like the Beverly Hills schools, Santa Monica-Malibu schools also have a “no nit “ policy in place. The district web site states, “Children who exhibit evidence of head lice will be excluded by classroom staff, and may not return until 24 hours after treatment has begun and all evidence of head lice (nits) is no longer present. Lice are a fact of life in our community. Since your child may be exposed, it is important that you be aware of the symptoms, treatment procedure, and your role in the prevention of the spread of infestation. Head lice can affect anyone. Prompt, thorough treatment and reporting are essential to prevent epidemic outbreaks. If you suspect your child has lice, notify the school office.
SCHOOL READMITTANCE: A child who is found to have head lice will be excluded from school immediately. Inspection by the school nurse or a certificate from the family physician is required to readmit the child to school. SMMUSD requires that students be nit free before being readmitted to school.”
Related Information: www.smmusd.org
As you can see, California has a wide array of school lice policies. Each district is responsible for setting its own policy. Please check with your school nurse to be sure that you are abreast of your child’s school lice policy. Call 310-923-9787 today to book an appointment in the Los Angeles area.