There is great variation in school head lice policies across the country. One district may have a strict “no nit” policy while the neighboring town may have a far more lenient policy regarding readmission to school after a lice diagnosis. Not so in the Portland area.
Portland and surrounding areas have a remarkably consistent policy regarding admission to vis a vis head lice: “A student with no live lice may return to school, even if nits are present. Parents are strongly urged to remove all nits from their child's hair to help prevent re-infestation.” What this means is that even if there are some remaining nits left in the hair after treatment, the child will be admitted to school. Basically the districts in the Portland area are following recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Portland School District, while allowing students with nits to return to school warns, “Although head lice is not categorized as a communicable disease, it is recognized as a health issue that can affect a student’s focus and comfort and can be passed on to other students in a classroom setting if the students are not following good health practices. (1) A student with live lice should be excluded from school, and sent home with lice treatment information. (a) A student with no live lice may return to school, even if nits are present. Parents are strongly urged to remove all nits from their child's hair to help prevent re-infestation. (b) Students will be re-checked for lice and nits upon initial re-entry and at 7 and 14 days after re-entry into school. (i) If live lice are present, the student will be excluded from school again. (ii) If after 14 days live lice remain present, the student will be excluded again and must remain out of school until there are no lice or nits."
Beaverton School District
The Beaverton School District “maintains a lice free policy in regard to head lice protocols. All live lice will be removed....The manual removal of as many nits as possible and environmental cleaning is required. All students infested with live lice shall be excluded from school until the measures outlined above have been completed. The following inspection schedule will be instituted if a head lice infestation is suspected: First Inspection --If live lice are present the student will be sent home with a parent and will be excluded until all live lice have been removed. If only nits are present, the student will return to class and be rechecked by school staff in one week. Second Inspection--a. If live lice are present the student will be excluded until all live lice have been removed. b. If nits remain at this inspection, the student will be re-checked by school staff in one week. Third Inspection -a. If live lice are present the student will be excluded until all live lice and nits have been removed. b. If no live lice are found at this inspection the student will not be checked again unless another episode of infestation is reported. It is the parent's responsibility to ensure approved treatment has been initiated and the appropriate environmental cleaning is being conducted in the home. The District will provide community education and/or resources to insure that the parents are able to comply with and understand their responsibilities under this policy. At least once a year, all schools will communicate with families regarding prevention and treatment of head lice. In the event that three or more unrelated cases of live lice are diagnosed at a school within a two-week period, a letter will be sent home to parents of all students at the school.”
West Linn Wilsonville School District
The West Linn Wilsonville School District revised its head lice policy in May 2013 and it is now consistent with the aforementioned policies. The district supports a “No Live Lice” policy. The US Centers for Disease Control, Harvard School of Public Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics and The National Association of School Nurses and Oregon Public Health Department all support this as well. The focus of this protocol is to keep kids in school and support families. Students found with live lice shall be excluded from school. Students who present with nits only should not be excluded from school. Parents should be notified that nits have been identified. Students will be rechecked at 7 and 14 days. If live lice are present, the student will be excluded again. After 14 days if live lice remain, absence of lice and nits is required for readmission. Students with nits only should not be excluded from school but should be rechecked in 7 and 14 days for the presence of live lice. An entire classroom should be checked for lice when there have been three non- related cases of head lice in a classroom within ten consecutive school days. Parents are to return to school with the student for re-admission in the event that the student may still have live lice present and will need to be excluded again. From a medical perspective, infestation with head lice is a mild health condition without serious health consequences for a child, and should not be considered a major health threat to those infested or potentially exposed. No convincing data exists that demonstrates that enforced exclusion policies are effective in reducing the transmission of lice.”
North Clackamas School District
NCSD has adopted a 'NO LIVE LICE' policy. This means if a student has lice, they must follow the outline NCSD policy for treatment and care and can be excluded from school until no live lice are present. NCSD does not enforce a no nit policy. The parent/guardian shall accompany the student to school where the student will be screened for lice. If live lice are still present, the student will return home with the parent/guardian.
The Bottom Line For Portland Residents
The bottom line for schools in Portland and surrounding areas is that as long as no live lice are found on a child, and as long as procedures are underway to remove the nits from the head, children may return to school so as not to miss too many classroom days. This is a trend being seen across the country and is causing controversy among parents and school personnel who are see children with nits as being potential carriers and communicators of live lice. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, contact LiceDoctors for more information at 503-715-1726. Or learn more about our Portland based lice treatment service.