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Search Health Information    Health experts question school policies on head lice

Health experts question school policies on head lice

(HealthDay News) -- Should a child with head lice be kept out of school?

Local health departments and school boards often have policies that ban kids with head lice from the classroom. But national health experts say the answer to that question should be "no."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "'No-nits' policies that require a student to be free of nits before they can return to school are not recommended. Students diagnosed with live head lice should not be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day, be treated, and return to class the next day. Excluding children from school because of head lice is not recommended."

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, urging that any such policies be abandoned.

"Because a child with an active head lice infestation likely has had the infestation for 1 month or more by the time it is discovered and poses little risk to others from the infestation, he or she should remain in class but be discouraged from close direct head contact with others," the academy suggests in a report in the August issue of Pediatrics

. Rather than "no-nit" policies, schools "can be most helpful by making available accurate information about the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of head lice in an understandable form to the entire school community," the experts say. "Information sheets in different languages and visual aids for families with limited literacy skills should be made available by schools and/or local health departments," the report states.

"If pediatricians and schools take the lead and react calmly, parents will be able to focus on appropriate treatment without becoming unduly upset," the report concludes.

The CDC also says that "current evidence does not support the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of classroom or school-wide screening for head lice to reduce the number of head lice infestations among schoolchildren."

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