Childrearing

Laidback School Policy Allows Lice-Infested Kids To Stay In The Classroom And Share The Wealth

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shutterstock_170696891In elementary school, I had lice twice. It was a moderately hellish experience, so trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about. I never, ever want either of my kids to get lice, if I can help it. Thank God I don’t live in Virginia, where schools have adopted a “lice free for all” policy.

Schools in Arlington, Virginia, have chosen not to send kids home if delightful lice have been found crawling around their little heads. According to the Slate article detailing the laissez-faire lice revolution:

No child will be sent home for lice or for nits. If a child has lice in her hair, the nurse will contact parents but send the child back to the classroom for the rest of the day. Parents are expected to treat the lice, but no one is checking in to enforce this expectation. No classes or groups will be screened for bugs. “No healthy child,” the policy reads, “should be excluded from or miss school because of head lice.”

To this I have to say a big NOPE. My lice experience in elementary school was annoying and truly tragic. I remember standing in the “lice line” as all of the kids in my class were given head checks with a plastic fork, a.k.a. a very advanced scientific tool used to detect stealthy lice.

I was so very ashamed when I was found to be The Carrier (even though I blame the entire thing on my younger brother and sister because they had lice too). Immediately, my entire licey family was sent home and quarantined with mass quantities of Quell shampoo. The next few days were spent fighting with my mom as she combed through my curly hair with a tiny lice comb and whining about how all of my friends were going to judge me for my lice problem.

But wait—lice may be coming to a school near you. Arlington’s lice policy is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses for schools all over the country. Apparently, lice don’t pose a legitimate health threat; they are just a disgusting public annoyance.

Supporters of the pro-lice brigade say that a “no-nit policy” prior to school readmission doesn’t make medical or scientific sense. As a “carrier,” I think it makes perfect hygienic sense, but that’s just me. I would prefer my child to be sent home for a full-scale lice extraction than to sit sadly in the back of the class. I would also prefer my child not to get lice from other licey kids milling about at school who haven’t been quarantined yet.

(Image: Elizabeth Hoffmann/Shutterstock)