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No longer recommended to send students home for lice: What parents need to know

Checking for lice. (Photo: FOX17 News){p}{/p}
Checking for lice. (Photo: FOX17 News)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - According to the Tennessee Department of Health and the American Association of Pediatrics, it’s no longer recommended to send students home for lice.

Nashville mother Tabatha Skipper is no stranger to head lice.

“I kept having to leave in the middle of the day to go home and then spend two, three days at home dealing with the lice again and again,” Skipper said.

From February to April of last year, she says two of her children who attended McGavock Elementary School had lice four times, which posed a big challenge for her daughter with autism.

“She could barely brush her hair daily, let alone putting a fine-tooth comb in her hair and getting her to sit still. It was almost impossible on her because of her autism,” Skipper said. “It was one of the worst experiences yet for her.”

The Skipper family missed several days of work and school at a time. That’s because even though it’s no longer recommended to send students home for lice, individual districts can still set their own policies.

Metro Nashville Public Schools Spokesperson Dawn Rutledge says MNPS has a more stringent lice protocol than some districts.

Rutledge said students are granted up to three excused absence days per lice infestation. Before coming back to school, a doctor’s note is required for proof that the child has been treated, and is lice-free.

Owner of The Lice Place and registered nurse Deanna Dickerson says the recommendation to not send students home for lice shouldn’t concern parents.

“If the lice have been discovered, more than likely that the children around that child have already been exposed, so it’s not going to accomplish a whole lot to have a fire drill, to call the parents to come home from work to go to school from work and pick the kids up and it’s probably not going to accomplish a lot,” Dickerson said.

She says parents will just have to treat the lice after school.

Dickerson recommends performing head checks at home once a week.

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She says lice do not pose any health risks, they don’t jump, fly, or infest your home, and your child isn’t going to catch them just by sitting next to another student who has them: they are spread by head-to-head contact.

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