Updated on May 14, 2017
Many districts in the Grand Rapids, Michigan vicinity retain "no nit" school lice policies, a policy that prevents students from returning to school until their heads are clear of eggs. despite the state and national standards that discourage the practice as overly penal. The Michigan Association of School Nurses also recommends against a no nit policy. "The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) jointly support the following statements for the management of head lice infestations within school communities. Currently, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating that enforced exclusion policies are effective at reducing head lice transmission. Although the lice policy is ultimately up to the school administration, school officials are urged to consider these recommendations At this time, MDCH and MDE recommend a policy that focuses on the exclusion of active infestations only. Active infestations can be defined as the presence of live lice or nits found within one quarter inch of the scalp. Nits that are found beyond one quarter inch of the scalp have more than likely hatched, or are no longer viable. Any student with live lice (or nits within one quarter inch of the scalp) may remain in school until the end of the school day. Immediate treatment at home is advised. The student will be readmitted to school after treatment and examination. If, upon examination, the school-designated personnel find no live lice on the child, the child may reenter the school. Any student with nits (farther than one quarter inch from scalp) should be allowed in school. Parents should remove nits daily and treat if live lice are observed." Read more: www.michigan.gov
Grand Rapids and Greenville School Districts
Both Grand Rapids and Greenville do not allow students to return to school until they are free of lice and eggs. These districts as well as Cedar Springs, Comstock Park, and Godfrey Lee rely on Spectrum School Health to provide nurses to their schools. This organization has a position on "no nit" policies that is counter to that of the Michigan Association of School Nurses."We've got data that refutes their position statements," said Stephanie Painter, director of school health programs for Spectrum. "It's controversial, and people need to hear it.The results of our study reveal that the no-nit policy, coupled with nursing interventions, makes a significant difference." According to their research published in their Michigan Head Lice Manual: "The danger? Lice are not known to transmit disease. Health threats are skin irritation, bacteria infections from scratching and psychological trauma. It would be comparable to if your dog had fleas, said Linda Rothenthaler, Rockford school nurse. "It makes them itch, and, sometimes, they can get a little infection from scratching."Are lice contagious? Generally, lice are transmitted through direct hair-to-hair contact, or from shared hats, combs and pillows. They do not crawl from one student to another. How can they be removed? Shampoos with lice-killing chemicals can do it. So can shaving the head. Coating the hair with certain oils might suffocate the bugs. Special combs can help remove nits." Prevalence rates, the number of families with chronic lice problems and the number of school days missed due to lice have declined, Painter said. She hopes the statistics get published this year in a professional medical journal."The data just is so significant," Painter said. "If you can just get rid of the nits, you're so much farther ahead in getting rid of the problem. That's where lice come from." Spectrum's research contradicts that of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which not only opposes no-nit policies but also states students diagnosed with live head lice need not be sent home early from school. Beyond that, the CDC claims school screening for head lice is neither beneficial nor cost-effective. The Grand Rapids school lice policy is spelled out below:
- "The Principal will designate persons who may perform lice checks in addition to the school nurse.
- These persons will be trained by school nurses to screen for lice.
- If a student is suspected to have lice, they should discretely be evaluated by a nurse or trained staff.
- If the student has lice, the child's classroom and close contacts (i.e., siblings or close friends) should also
- be screened for lice.
- If siblings or close friends from another class have head lice, then their entire class should be checked also.
- If students in several classes have lice, then students in the whole building need to be assessed with a screening.
- Students identified with lice or nits during a screening should be excluded from school.
- Parents/Guardians will be given printed information about the care and prevention of lice. They can be referred to their doctor or other Community Resources for supplies if they cannot afford them.
- Upon return students will be re-evaluated for lice or nits."
Read more: www.grps.org
Holland School District
The Holland School District maintains a more liberal lice admission policy than Grand Rapids. The school lice policy follows the recommendations of the Michigan Association of School Nurses. "The Board of Education recognizes the importance of a school environment that is safe, clean, and free of undue distractions such as pediculosis (head lice). State regulations indicate that superintendents, principals, and teachers shall exclude from school any child suspected of having a communicable disease. In line with these regulations, students discovered to have pediculosis will be excluded from school until they have been treated and are free of live lice. Head lice checks are given to all students in kindergarten-5th grade. WHEN: Three times per year as a prevention technique Beginning of school
- After Winter Break
- After Spring Break
- Any time a problem is perceived
Children found to have pediculosis will be restricted from activities involving close contact. A parent will be contacted to pick up the child. Literature will be sent home on detection and prevention of head lice." Read more: www.westottawa.net
Muskegon Public Schools
Student with head lice are not permitted in Muskegon Public Schools. The district web site stipulates: "If your child exhibits evidence of a rash, impetigo, pink eye, head lice, scabies, or any other contagious condition, you, or your designee, will be called to come to school and pick up your child. We don't do this to upset you, but to safeguard those who may come into contact with an infected child. If you suspect your child has an aforementioned condition, PLEASE DON'T SEND HIM OR HER TO SCHOOL." Read more: www.muskegonhealth.net As you can see, although the Michigan State government position is that children with lice be allowed to return to school, each school has its own policy. You should check with your school nurse to be sure that you are aware of your local school district lice policy.