Aliso Viejo Parents in a Nit Snit

Lice is a childhood right of passage but of course it’s also something many parents don’t really want to talk about.   Or is it the School that wants to avoid alerting parents until it’s absolutely necessary?  And then, when can you send your child back to school?  The current policy is proof of treatment is enough to have your child return though they may still have evidence of lice and the possibility of passing it along.

The district supports a “no live lice” policy, which states if a student comes to school with adult lice, he or she is sent home with notification detailing options for treatment.

When more than one student has lice, the school sends a similar letter home with the entire classroom.

Proof of treatment must be shown before a student can return to class. If the lice eggs, or nits, are still visible post- treatment, it’s OK.

“Once students have been treated, you can assume most of the lice are dead,” said Andrea Karolys, a lead nurse with Capistrano Unified. “If students have dead eggs, we check to see if anything’s moving. If they’ve been treated with proof, the probability is pretty small.”

That’s where parents have a problem.

Many want to see a “no nit” policy instated in their children’s schools. This means if one egg, dead or alive, is found on a student’s scalp, he or she is not allowed to attend school until every nit is eradicated.

“All the schools need to update or change their policy,” said Anne Vittemberga, a mother of two girls who attend Canyon Vista. “Going by the district policy is very frustrating to me. It tells people ‘don’t alert other parents because you’ll cause a panic’ or ‘you’re going to cause absenteeism.’ In reality, we’re all a lot calmer by being more aware.”

OC Register

My daughter Charlotte starts Kindergarten in September and we’ve not had to deal with lice, yet.   And although yes, it’s an obvious annoyance and it can be downright uncomfortable for your child, it is not the end of the world.   The article cites statistics and school absences due to lice seem pretty minimal. 

Capistrano Unified in its 2006-07 year-end health services report recorded 387 cases of students who were excluded from school due to head lice.

That’s roughly .7 percent of all students in the 51,000-student school district, according to Pamela Kahn, coordinator of health and wellness for the Orange County Department of Education.

In a similar report, the Santa Ana School District, with about 54,000 students, recorded a 1.3 percent exclusion rate.

I wonder if there is any underreporting due to the social taboo of lice.  As a society we tend to be a bit squeamish about the creatures that live on us, that we can see and lice is seen as a by-product of general uncleanliness.  It just is not the case, as Kids Health Org. states, “Anyone who says that people who get lice are dirty doesn’t know that lice love everyone and that includes the cleanest kid in the class!”  All parasites are qual opportunity organisms and are not that picky.

So, I wonder if Aliso Viejo parents are just being nitpicky?