VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - There's a new policy in place for Vigo County schools...and it involves head lice procedures.
Lice are described as tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on blood.
New Head Lice Policy/Procedures for Vigo County School Corp.
It is the position of the National Association of School Nurses, CDC, and American Academy of Pediatrics, that the management of head lice in the school setting should not disrupt the educational process of the student. Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice. Students will not be excluded from school for having head lice, although school nurses have the authorization to exclude a child with repeated infestations or with an apparent lack of adequate follow through by parents.
Transmission: Lice do not hop or jump, they can only crawl, and pets do not play a role in the transmission of human lice. In most cases, transmission occurs by direct contact. Indirect spread through contact with personal belongings of an infested individual is much less likely to occur. The major focus of control activities should be to reduce the number of lice on the head and to lessen the risks of head-to-head contact.
· Screening for head lice should be done only by the school nurse, health assistant, or health assistant designee or individuals trained by the school nurse.
· The health assistant, health assistant designee, or school nurse may check all who have close contact (siblings or others who are symptomatic or who were most likely to have direct head to head contact with the infested student) with a confirmed case of live lice. This is not mandatory.
· Students with live (crawling) lice or nits within ¼ inch or less of the scalp should have a note sent home with student or parents contacted by phone. Treatment should not be initiated unless there is clear evidence of live lice. The child should be allowed to remain in class and participate in school-sponsored activities when live lice or nits (the eggs of head lice) are found on their heads. The student should be discouraged from close direct head contact with others.
· If a parent chooses to take the student home they may but this is not required. Students having no evidence of infestation do not need treatment.
· The next day when student returns to school the student's head should be checked and treatment verified. Check student periodically (once or twice the week lice are found). If progress is being made may stop head checks. If no progress in nit removal is occurring, contact the school nurse. A student may be sent home if treatment and nit removal is not occurring. Nit removal may decrease diagnostic confusion, decrease the possibility of unnecessary retreatment, and help to decrease the small risk of self-infestation and social stigma.
· No nit policies that require a child to be free of nits before they can return to school have been discontinued for the following documented reasons:
ü Many nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may in fact be empty shells, also known as "casings".
ü Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.
ü The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.
ü Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by nonmedical personnel.
· The child does not need to be sent home immediately. Parent notification should be made by the end of the school day by phone or note being sent with student.
· Screening for nits alone is not an accurate way of predicting which children are or 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 over time. Because of lack of evidence of efficacy, routine classroom or schoolwide screening will not be done.
· Notification of lice in class room letters are not routinely sent to parents of other students in the classroom. They may be sent, at the nurse and principal discretion, when a significant number of cases occur in a single classroom or grade.
Lice Quick Facts:
· Head lice are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene and are not known to cause disease; however secondary bacterial infection of the skin resulting from contaminated scratching and related lesions can occur. If infection is suspected, contact the school nurse.
· Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.
· There is significant stigma resulting from head lice infestations resulting in children being ostracized from their schools, friends, and other social events.
· The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend excessive environmental cleaning, such as home pesticides.
· While it is unlikely to prevent all cases of head lice, children should be taught not to share personal items such as combs, brushes, and hats. Regular observation by parents can also be an effective way to detect and quickly treat head lice infestations.
The new policy boldly states students will NOT be excluded from school for having head lice.
School nurses do however have the authority to exclude a child with repeated infestations or lack of adequate care.
Experts say head lice are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene.
Officials warn children should not share personal items like combs, brushes, or hats.