TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- They crawl around on your scalp, lay eggs in your hair and feed off human blood. It's safe to say no one wants head lice--especially on their children.
One local parent was shocked when her daughter came home with lice and learned that schools don't make students with lice go home.
In recent years, many local districts have eased up on how they deal with lice in schools--something that has some parents scratching their heads.
Getting rid of head lice is not an easy process.
“You wash all the bedding, the pillows, the blankets, just everything,” said Kandi, a concerned parent.
But head slathering and nit picking her daughter's hair isn't what's really bugging Kandi.
“Saying, ‘oh, it's okay for your kid to stay in school to spread it on to other kids,’ that's not right,” Kandi said. “That's not right at all.”
Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland school districts have stopped making kids with lice stay home from school in the last few years.
And Kandi said no one notified her about this change.
“They can stay in school all day, which means it goes from child to child to child to child,” she said. “It's uncomfortable for them because their head itches, and it becomes expensive for the parent because they have to buy the treatment kits.”
So why the change?
“We don't exclude kids with head lice,” said school nurse Cheryl Ricketts. “That's not always a popular opinion for others, but in actuality, head lice aren’t a medical condition, it's a nuisance.”
Many districts adopted the change from recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“There's a fear that ‘I’m going to get head lice from the kids sitting next to me,’” Ricketts said. “That just really does not happen.”
Ricketts said a child is far more likely to get lice from a sleepover, or wherever there is head-to-head contact.
Districts like the Richland School District offer treatment information to parents, but keep everything confidential from other parents and teachers.
“They don't want to go anywhere,” Ricketts said. “They don't jump, they don't fly, and it really takes a lot for lice to go from one head to the other.”
And at the end of the day, Ricketts said keeping kids from school is just too high a cost--especially for two students she remembers.
“Lice was just kind of part of their life,” she said. “It just wasn't going to go away. And if we excluded them from school, they would have never been there. And the best place for these girls to be was at school--they had meals, they had people watching out for them. To exclude them would have been a horrible disservice.”
She said the real problem with head lice is the stigma that surrounds it—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Rickets said to remember that lice don't care if you're rich or poor--they just want a warm head. If you have any questions about head lice, she said just reach out to your school's nurse.