When there’s a ‘louse in the house’ [Guest Post]

I am so tired of being ‘politically correct’ – at least when it comes to individual school board decisions on what [condition/disease] would warrant exclusion from school. I’m talking LICE!lice

I raised two girls, who loved having long hair, in the public school system. At the time, I was not yet a practicing school nurse, and the time and expense I personally encountered for several years was truly a big deal. Not only did I spend hours at night combing out nits and shampooing with toxic solutions over and over, we even arranged for our house to be “bombed” by professionals, whose mission it was to execute whatever arachnid-like creature had taken up residence, while we stayed at a hotel for a week. Between the lice bombing and hotel stay, I had a five grand headache. Oh, and both girls got lice again.

Now, as a school nurse, I am deemed to keep youngsters in school when I determine that they have either nits or lice (pediculosis capitas). Other school nurses face the same situation, and if you’re a mom or dad, your time to deal with lice will come, if it hasn’t already.

Yes, new research states that lice do not ‘jump’ (I never said they were marsupials), they don’t live very long on your child’s ‘stuffie’, nor do they carry diseases such as malaria, cholera nor leprosy. Some say they’re harmless. Despite the new recommendations by the CDC, Harvard School of Public Health and AAP, I do not want, like, nor accept a child being in a classroom with 50, or even just 10, students in one room with theses nuisances. We are a society that embraces appropriate displays of affection and, if a ‘louse is in the house’, soon there will be lice, and someone will be going to the pharmacy very soon.

My advice – KEEP OUT THE LICE!  As long as student respect, discretion and confidentially are carefully given, keeping nits and lice out of school will lessen the ‘headaches’ from which parents and children will suffer. If only I’d known then what I know now, maybe I’d be five grand richer.

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About the author

Pam BarnesPamela Barnes, RN, CSN-NJ, M.Ed is the School Nurse and Health Educator at The Children’s Institute in Verona, NJ, and has over 18 years of school nursing experience.