Why Schools Are Moving Away from “No-Nit” Policies
“No-nit” policies are common practice in Canada, however, some schools/school boards are getting away from these “no-nit” policies. When talking with parents form schools that do not enforce “no-nit” policies we always hear the same things…
1) why wasn’t I notified that lice were found at my child’s school?
2) why aren’t kids with lice sent home from school until they are lice-free?
Here are the answers
Over the past decade or so, there’s been a major shift in the medical and educational communities about how to deal with head lice. The shift has come with the recognition that head lice do not represent a serious health threat and a case of head lice does not warrant missing valuable school time. Also, while some schools will notify the parents of children that are found with head lice, many schools don’t warn other families because of the panic that often ensues. The policy changes are designed to help keep children from missing class, shield children with lice from embarrassment, and protect their privacy.
Some experts recommend that students diagnosed with live head lice infestations should not need to be sent home early from school. They list the following reasons for the change:
- Nits (eggs) 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 non-medical personnel in schools and daycares.
The reality for most schools
The reality is keeping schools entirely lice-free would be a futile use of their limited resources. Most schools have one designated “head checker”, however, they have other jobs to do at the school and many times do not have much experience with lice at all. The Center for Disease Control estimates that there are 6-12 million cases of head lice in children between the ages of 3-11 in the US. This means that at least 1 in 5 students have lice at any given time. In the early stages of a case of head lice, many children display no symptoms at the itching sensation that indicates the presence of head lice usually takes a while to develop. It’s usually a couple weeks into an infestation before you even realize that you have it.
Keeping a school lice-free would require constant checks of the entire student body. This is difficult and perhaps unnecessary for a condition that is not considered a health problem. Many “no-nit” policies were developed because traditional over the counter lice treatments take several weeks to be effective. The first treatment is designed to kill live lice but doesn’t kill eggs, or nits. Since nits can hatch over ensuing weeks and remain for the subsequent treatments, combing and nit-picking are required with a traditional treatment.
As a parent, what do I do?
Check your child’s head immediately when you get a sign. That would include a letter home form school or a call from another parent. Also, if your child complains about their head being itchy (or you notice them scratching). Don’t shrug these signs off, a quick check will take only a few minutes. If you don’t feel confident, call a professional to get a proper head screening.
If you do find lice, don’t freak out. Lice Clinics of Canada has a new treatments available that can kill live lice and nits in a single session. We have pioneered a new approach with a first-of-its kind medical device, AirAllé, which has been cleared by the FDA and Health Canada and is clinically proven to kill live lice and more than 99 percent of nits in a single treatment that takes about 90 minutes. AirAllé uses carefully controlled warm air to dehydrate lice and eggs, and in the company’s worldwide 300+ clinics more than 350,000 cases of head lice have been successfully treated.
For more information, visit www.liceclinicsontario.ca or call 519-208-5423.