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School Head Lice Policy Questioned

They're a nuisance and can cause extreme discomfort.

Head lice is mainly spread through head to head contact, by sharing hats, scarves and combs.

There is no immediate health issue.

So... some area schools have reversed a no nit policy where children would be out of school until all nits -- or eggs -- were gone. (NOTE: Millard Public Schools have not changed their policy, if nits are present a student is sent home)

The new policy implemented in some schools is raising a concern.

Head lice was a reason to keep a child out of school.

But the American Academy of Pediatricians deemed that practice detrimental to a child's education.

Now, it's become a problem some teachers are dealing with.

A teacher who did not want to be identified called Channel Six News telling us that head lice is such a problem in her classroom that she doesn't want to interact with her kids like she normally would. She says she's not alone in this, that other teachers feel the same way.

OPS Supervisor of Health Services Sharon Wade says the new policy makes sense since head lice can fester in a child's hair for weeks before it starts itching.

She said there's no reason for children to stay home from school for an extended time.

"If a child is identified with head lice they are allowed to stay until the end of the school day and then the parent is contacted and we insist on immediate treatment for them to return to school," she said.

"It really is a building issue and every principal in the district who's been affected by this has tried to work with our health department to alleviate it," OPS Spokeswoman Luanne Nelson said. "It's really tough this time of year as soon as it starts getting a little cooler it appears that every year we face this issue."

"I could see how there could be some concern if kids are coming to school infected if it disrupts learning...it disrupts the flow of the classroom if the teachers nervous," Millard Education Association President Molly Erickson said.

And for those teachers working with students with active head lice...

"Going to their principal would be completely appropriate," Erickson said.

Some children are sent home.

"If a child would be extremely uncomfortable we don't want them to have to stay in the classroom and be subjected to that," Sharon Wade said.

Another segment of the equation in the school head lice policy lies with common sense. If a child is infested with head lice and home treatments aren't working, it may be time to see a pediatrician

The unidentified teacher said she was concerned she would lose her job if she talked publicly

Both OPS and the Millard Teachers Union say raising concerns over health issues would not result in termination.

Parents have a say in their child's health as well.

They should regularly check for nits to stop them before they get to the stage where itching is a problem.


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