Decatur school sends lice letter to parentsMale human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis. Photo by Gilles San Martin. Source: Wikimedia Commons
A Decatur elementary school has sent a letter home to parents notifying them that head lice has been discovered on some of the students.
Head lice is quite common. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 6 million to 12 million cases of lice each year in the U.S. affecting children 3 to 11 years old.
City Schools of Decatur spokesperson Courtney Burnett said cases crop up year round.
“This is pretty typical thing that all schools deal with,” Burnett said.
The letter to parents says, “To support our families… teachers have been asked to have students store coats/hats/scarves inside of book bags instead of next to each other on hooks. They have also been asked to take hugging out of the morning greeting options. As always, our carpets are vacuumed nightly.”
The letter says a louse cannot survive beyond one or two days without a host. That means every Monday a building is lice free.
The CDC has discouraged school systems from adhering to a “no-nit” policy, that requires a child to be free of all nits, a lice egg, before returning to class. The CDC recommends against this policy because…
– 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.
– Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.
– The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.
– Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by nonmedical personnel.
According to City Schools of Decatur’s lice policy, “CSD policy (which follows CDC guidelines) allows children that have been treated for lice to return to school the following day. Children identified (at school) with an active case of head lice will be sent home for treatment. Children found to have nits only (no live lice) are allowed to finish the school day, at the discretion of the school nurse. Children must be treated prior to returning to school and checked by the school nurse prior to returning to class.”
To read CSD’s tips for treating head lice, click here.