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Now I'm Just Nit-Picking

Lice need not apply.

As is my wont, I took a gander at the agenda for the upcoming NUSD Board of Trustees meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 5. I was left scratching my head.

One of the Discussion/Action items is a revision to the board policy on head lice. Ever since the great outbreaks of the '08-'09 school year, I only have to see that word and my head starts itching. It's an involuntary action, much like how I yawn whenever I see someone else yawn or read the word "yawn" or -- YAWN, sorry -- I type the word "yawn."

How about you? Is your head itching? Will you be looking over your kids' heads today when they return from school? Most parents I talk to have that same involuntary reaction.

Anyway, the state of California's Department of Education has changed its stance on the whole head lice issue. Oh, I'm sure they're still against lice, on principle, but they no longer tell individual school districts to send home a student for the day when live lice are discovered on him or her. The DOE also recognizes that school nurses are in short supply, so the active screening of the heads of our precocious and precious offspring at the schools is also no longer part of its stance. And that no-nit policy? Nixed as well. 

The state's guidelines cite studies showing that the no-nit policy is not necessary. So now they are just going with the no-lice policy. How will they do that? They will do that in three steps, none of which actually involve the schools. One, routine screening by parents and/or caregivers. Two, treatment of kids with lice. Three, a nifty brochure aptly called "A Parent's Guide to Head Lice."

Once the revisions to the NUSD policy are approved, nits are not an issue, kids with live lice can stay in school, and parents of the lice-infected student's classmates may or may not be informed of the lice outbreak. The state says, "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." It appears NUSD is punting that over to the principal at each site to determine whether notification happens.

Having lived through the great lice outbreak of '08-'09, let me tell you, while it might not be a health issue -- no disease is transmitted by the little buggers -- it is a hell of battle to be fought when they enter your home on the heads of your beloved children. Knowing that kids with live lice are going to come back to the class makes my skin crawl. Or at least it makes my head itch. Oh, wait, I might not know that. Until it's my kid with the live lice.

My read of the state's guidance has me finding a little disclaimer at the end. "The information provided in this document are recommendations provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be regulatory in effect."

Let's consider the greater impact of having students with live lice returning to the classroom. You can't tell me it won't increase the number of other students getting lice. Send them home. And notify parents when there are kids in the class with live lice.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to head over to the school and check my kid's head. Right after I wash my hair.

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Elaine Chyrklund February 05, 2013 at 03:55 PM
The class room notification isn't as helpful as one would think--only because most of the time it has already been in the class. The real problem is education on lice and what parents can do. There could be education at a PTA meeting or in a school eblast. As a parent who had to deal with it the first time in elementary school, I was obsessed with getting rid of those critters. It actually didn't matter if I got rid of the lice on my kids, if it is rampant in the class or the school they had a good chance of getting it again. It takes many families knowing how to spot and get rid of lice. And then I threw in the towel and let the professionals at NitPixies help me!
Patty Maher February 05, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Elaine, I agree that the classroom notification isn't a cure-all. But your experience and mine and all of the others up until now have come about when there has been a no-nit policy. I believe eliminating that, not to mention sending kids with live lice back into the classrooms, and not necessarily informing parents can only make the outbreaks that more prevalent.
Joan February 05, 2013 at 11:51 PM
And exposing developing children to more chemicals to get rid of the lice!!! The cost is not worth it.
Craig Belfor February 06, 2013 at 05:21 AM
Sorry to add my imput to this lousey story, but getting the nits avoids the lice, so prevention is easier than curing the symptopm.
Claire February 07, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Good luck with contacting the Trustees and hoping to be heard or for the Trustees to go against the proposal of the District. I cannot remember one single item when the trustees have not unanimously agreed with the recommendation of the District. All I can say is I am fortunate I never had to deal with lice in my house and - better than that - in a year from now I won't have to deal with the District or this Board any longer since I won't have any children in the District anymore. That will be a happy day in my life!

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