The bane of all parent’s existence: head lice. These little buggers can find themselves onto your kid’s scalp regardless of how clean you keep your home or how hygienic your child is. They’re a pain to comb out of your kid’s hair, especially if she’s a long blonde! And once one kid in the class contracts head lice, it seems to spread like wildfire.
At least, that’s what’s been happening for years now—lice spreading in the close quarters of a school’s classroom. But now, the CDC is stating students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to stay away from school after treatment has begun! Begun, not finished. They can come back with nits still in their hair and their lice only one foot in the grave.
Most schools have a strict “No-Nit” policy that requires kids to be free of lice and nits (the egg or young form of a louse) before they can return to schools. They have this because past experiences for years have shown that when one kid comes in with lice, another is soon to follow. Then another. Then another. So why would the CDC say “both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses advocate that the ‘no-nit’ policies be discontinued”?
Read their (mostly half-baked) reasoning:
Let’s break this down.
- Many nits are too far from the scalp and very unlikely to hatch and become crawling lice. “Many” and “very unlikely” do not comfort me here. That wording does not convince me to follow their advice. Because that means “some” and “could” apply here as well. Some nits are close enough to hatch and become crawling lice that could infest my child. Knowing my luck, that’s exactly what would happen.
- Nits are “very unlikely” to be transferred—there’s that wording again! Until I see the CDC, the AAP and the NASN say “Nits can NOT be transferred,” I’m going to do us all a favor and keep my lice-infested kid home for a few days.
- How is my kid being absent for a few days such a “burden” on my community? I get how it’s a burden on teachers, the student, or their families. Working parents now have to take time off or find a babysitter. Teachers have to catch the kid up and get them their missed assignments. The kid doesn’t get to see his friends and gets extra homework. But how is my kid missing a few days of school a burden to my community? “Well, my tax money pays for their teacher, who your kid’s not using if he’s absent!” Oh Em Gee, *eye roll*! That teacher has 27 other students they have to be at school for—your tax dollars are hard at work, I promise. Stop trying to use emotionally charged, exaggerated wording to scare us into believing you, CDC.
- A misdiagnosis of nits by non-medical personnel is literally the only excuse/ legitimate reason I can get on board with in this new recommendation. But 1 out of 4 isn’t good enough to convince me that sending my lice/nit infested kid back to school is an okay thing to do.
Look, I get it. I don’t want my kid missing any more school than she already does for random illnesses or the occasional doctor appointment. And don’t get me started on how difficult it is for a working parent to figure out last minute adjustments in order to get their diagnosed kid home! So the suggestion to let kids keep coming to school before treatment is complete/before nits are gone might be tempting to some.
But I play by the “better safe than sorry” rule. The CDC admits that “nits may persist after treatment,” even if successful treatment kills the crawling lice. But until they can say without any doubt that nits are 100% unsuccessful in transferring to other children or hatching into new crawling lice, I’m not going to take the risk. I will not be known as the mom, or let my daughter be known as the girl, who gave all of kindergarten head lice.
And for the love of all that is good in this world, PLEASE follow my lead! Don’t risk giving my kid lice just because the CDC casually threw out the word, “unlikely.”
What do you think about the CDC’s statement? Would you still send your kid to school while treatment is being given, or would you wait until treatment was finished and all nits were gone?