Lousy kids

Lousy kids — that is children being treated for head lice — don’t have to miss school in some Ohio districts, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Schools have decided lice are a nuisance but not a public health threat.

Some, including South-Western, ban students from class — often for days or weeks — until all signs of lice, including the eggs, or nits, are gone. Other districts, including Columbus and Westerville, say kids can’t afford to miss so much school, so students are permitted to stay in class even while they are being treated for an infestation.

In Columbus, officials say they have seen no increase in lice since the district relaxed its policy several years ago.

Via Education Gadfly.

At my daughter’s elementary school, nobody missed more than a day for head lice. Every class had a volunteer mom serving as “lice monitor” who checked that nits had been combed out.

I believe that a head lice movie should be part of all anti-teen pregnancy campaigns. Call it “Scared Celibate.”

About Joanne


  1. Are they not informed about how easily lice is spread? There is a high likelihood that almost every little girls (and boy) could all have this parasite living on their head at the same time. And I know there are some teachers who are gonna get creeped out by this.

    Hall Monitor

  2. HM:

    I can understand getting creeped out. When I was a substitute teacher, one day the gift that I got from the teacher that I was in for was showing the films on vermin. One was on lice and the other was on rat infestations in some third world country (where the solution was to hire some folks who would smoke them out of the lairs and cook and eat them). I was itchy all day.

    That said, I have also dealt with lice in real world situations–my own kids and other people’s kids as well. The issue is that, while creepy and annoying, lice are really pretty harmless–from a public health standpoint (that is, they don’t spread disease). The standard of effectiveness of treatment that has long been applied by many schools is the “no nit policy.” The lice themselves are pretty easy (although annoying–in terms of the amount of laundry that must be done) to deal with. The nits (eggs), on the other hand, attach securely to the hair shaft. The reality is that all those special combs and a whole lot of other treatments don’t do a lot to dislodge them. This is why one of the classic treatments, in boys, has sometimes been the “lice haircut.” There are now treatments that kill eggs–but they remain attached.

    Public health officials, when weighing all of these factors, considered the actual health risks (very minimal) the cost of lost school time (a serious consideration), and whether no nits policies were more effective in preventing the spread than the initial notification to parents of the need for treatment. I would rely on their judgment.

  3. Soapbox Diva says:

    A key word for me is that the kids are still being treated for the lice, so it is not like it is being ignored.

  4. I believe it’s also against the law in Texas to exclude a child strictly for lice. The schools get around it by implementing a “no nit” policy.

    When my daughter was 5, we fought lice for more than a month. From the level of infestation, she’d had for many, many weeks. She missed over two weeks of school over this. She also got a chemical burn from the over the counter meds that made her itching even more intense. It was a prescription of Malathion from the doctor that finally killed it all. The doctor said that she had a nurse that had fought lice in her household for over six months!

    I’ve heard the stories of lice infecting whole dorms and camps but it didn’t happen to us. Even though the kids and I shared hairbushes, she was the only one in the family who had it.