District Administration March 2018 - 42

LEEWAY ON LICE
mistakenly believe that lice are harmful
and easily spread in school settings.
"We get a lot of confusion and questions from a lot of stakeholders-not
only parents of kids in school, but also
queries from teachers and administrators," Balchunas says.
Despite the fact that those national
health recommendations have been
in place for more than a decade, policies allowing children with lice to stay
in school remain in the minority-in
large part due to a combination of ignorance and fear, adds Deborah Pontius,
health services coordinator for Pershing
County School District in Nevada.
"It's not about facts, it's about emotions," Pontius says. "You have to get past
that in order to effectively change policy."
Stigmatized and distracted?
Experts say that only about 10 percent of
head lice cases are the result of transmission at school. The majority of infections
can be traced to sleep-overs, childcare and
family settings. And contrary to popular belief, head lice aren't all that contagious-they cannot hop or fly, and don't

"Parents think they have a right to know if
there's lice in school, but legally, they don't."
- Deborah Pontius, Pershing County School District (Nev.)

survive long on inanimate objects, says
Dr. Barbara Frankowski, a member of the
American Academy of Pediatrics Council
on School Health.
"Lice don't live for more than 24
hours off of somebody's head, so you can
be pretty sure that by Monday morning,
there are no live lice in your school,"
Frankowski says.
Unlike ticks that spread Lyme disease, lice do not transmit illness. "No
one has ever been hospitalized or died of
head lice," she says.
Sending a child home as soon as lice
or nits are discovered can cause stigmatization, Frankowski says. If a child leaves
school early and families receive a "lice letter" later that same day, it's quite easy for
children and families to figure out who the
affected child might be.

ITCH FACTORS
Head lice are parasitic insects that feed on human blood and
live close to the scalp.

Approximately 6 million to 12 million cases occur
annually among American children ages 3 to 11.
At any given time, approximately 1% to 5% of a school's
population has lice.
A child has likely been infected for
approximately 3 weeks by
the time lice are discovered.
Lice are most common
among preschool and early
elementary-age children.
Only about 10 percent of
all head lice cases are the result
of transmission at school.

42 March 2018

That information often leads to
unnecessary exclusion and inaccurate
assumptions, Frankowski says.
Students might refuse to play with
children suspected of having lice and
affected families are often viewed as
"dirty" or "unhygienic" by the community, despite the fact that cleanliness has
nothing to do with lice.
Besides, the evidence shows that,
"if there's going to be transmission, it's
likely already happened long before lice
are found," Pontius adds.
"Allowing the child to stay in the
classroom until the end of the school
day and ride the bus home isn't going to
increase the likelihood of anybody getting lice."
In Washoe County schools, staff who
notice symptoms of head lice in a student must send the child to the health
office. Only the nurse and a clinical aide
can confirm lice or nits. If head lice are
present, the nurse notifies the principal
and the child's parents.
The parents can pick up the child
or the child can stay in class stay until
school ends. The nurse provides information about lice treatment to the parents, and in most cases, parents begin
treatment that same day.
When the child returns to school-
which may be the next day-the nurse
or aide rechecks for lice. If any are noted
and there is no evidence that treatment
has been initiated, the case is considered
chronic. The student is allowed to stay in
school while health staff reach out to the
family to see what additional support
might be necessary-including helping parents obtain treatment supplies if
there are financial barriers.
Still, policies that allow children with
active, inadequately treated cases of lice
to remain in school make many people-
including schools staff-uncomfortable.
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

District Administration March 2018 - Cover1
District Administration March 2018 - Cover2
District Administration March 2018 - 1
District Administration March 2018 - 2
District Administration March 2018 - 3
District Administration March 2018 - 4
District Administration March 2018 - 5
District Administration March 2018 - 6
District Administration March 2018 - 7
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