Report: NH Education Dep't Trying to Remove 'Stigma' Associated With Head Lice

By Susan Jones | March 10, 2014 | 11:30 AM EDT

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( - The Manchester, New Hampshire School Board is mulling policy changes that would allow more students with head lice to remain in class, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.

Current Manchester schools policy requires students with head lice to be sent home immediately, to prevent the bugs and eggs from spreading.

But the New Hampshire Department of Education website says “‘no nit’ policies contribute to the stigma created around lice.” The policy revision -- to be discussed at Monday night's meeting -- would bring Manchester schools more in line with state policy, the Union Leader reported.

According to the N.H. Department of Education website, "The student should be allowed to remain in the classroom that day if comfortable and return to school the following day. School staff need to ensure student confidentiality is maintained and should not segregate or in any way embarrass the child. There is no research data that demonstrates that enforced exclusion policies are effective in reducing the transmission of lice."

But some parents don't want the current Manchester schools policy to change.

"They want to be told if someone in their child’s class is found to have lice," the newspaper quoted Manchester School Board Member John Avard as saying. "They don’t want their child put at risk of getting it. I understand their concerns. I have four daughters — that’s a lot of hair in our house.”

Under the proposed changes, any Manchester student suspected of having head lice would go to the school nurse, who would notify the parents. The child would be sent home "if he/she is uncomfortable or if the administration deems it necessary."

The school nurse would send home instructions on how to treat the problem, and she would "conduct ongoing assessments of the individual students, as needed."

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common way to get head lice is by head-to-head contact with a person who already has head lice. An estimated 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age.