Parents Concerned Over School District's Lice Policy

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RENO, Nev.-- For the longest time, the policy was to send kids home and keep them home if they were infested with lice, but since the nuisance bugs are not causing any actual harm, school officials say it's more important to keep kids in class.

By now your head is probably already starting to itch; just thinking about lice gets most people on edge.

"It's not comfortable, it gets in your head psychologically," said Jennifer Young, a parent who is grossed out by lice. She is worried her kids are now more susceptible to lice thanks to a school district policy that says students don't have to leave school when they're diagnosed.

"If they are not going to keep a kid home from school with head lice until they are free of it and they are bringing it to school, inevitably, especially with the younger kids, It's gonna spread," said Young.

As it turns out, the policy is one that the school district adopted about a year and a half ago.

"The trend is toward not having kids miss school because of a pest that does not cause disease," said Dana Balchunas, WCSD Director of Student Health Services.

The decision was based on research from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics, which found infested kids aren't putting other students at any additional risk.

"This does not fly, it does not hop, it doesn't skiddle across the carpet and find other people; you have to be in close contact," said Balchunas.

Still, they're often transferred from kid to kid, but the thinking is once lice are discovered, classmates have already been exposed for some time.

"If they are discovered today with lice, they have had that for at least two weeks, up to several months," said Melanie Harris, a school nurse.

It's the district's belief those extra days in class won't make a difference, but that brings no comfort to Jennifer Young who has dealt with the pests before.

"If your kid has head lice, get rid of it. Bring them back to school, it may only take a day top get rid of head lice if a parent is on top of it," said Young.