Lice-troversy: Should Students With Head Lice Be Allowed to Stay in Class?
ST. CLOUD - With some Minnesota school districts now allowing students to stay in class with head lice, the St. Cloud area school district is maintaining its policy of sending those kids home.
According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, head lice infestations create a high level of anxiety for parents and school children. The study went on to say "A child should not be restricted from school attendance because of lice, because head lice have low contagion within classrooms."
As a result, some metro districts like Anoka-Hennepin now allow students with lice to stay in class to reduce a negative stigma of uncleanliness.
However, the St. Cloud area school district is sticking with a policy of sending kids home if they have active lice. Those who are found to have eggs or nits in their hair are allowed to stay in class, their parents are notified for treatment options.
Katie Bauerly is the lead school nurse with District 742, she says head lice only impacts about one percent of the district student population. Students who are found with active lice are sent home for a medicated shampoo or oil treatment, which typically doesn't take much time.
"Kids can go home and have their hair combed and treated in the morning and come back later in the afternoon, so we really don't see that much missed school time."
Fall is prime lice season and usually impacts 6-12 million kids across the country every year. Bauerly says while head lice is only spread through close personal contact, they do see cases of children (mostly elemetary aged) spreading it by accidentally sharing clothing.
"Managing head lice means careful shampooing and nit removal, just very detailed cleaning."
Bauerly says the district recently reviewed their head lice policy, but ultimately decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
"We may be causing anxiety for that family in the short term but it can cause a lot of anxiety and need for further treatment in our other populations. So we thought it best to just take care of it right away."
For the district policy information on head lice, click here.