AAP: Head Lice No Reason to Send Students Home (October 2, 2022)

According to guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released Sept. 26th, schools should not send students home or keep them away from school due to a case of head lice — the annoying but not dangerous tiny, wingless insects that feed off the blood in the human scalp. In fact, “no-nit” policies that forbid an infected student from returning to school could violate students’ civil liberties and create psychological stress.

When cases of head lice are identified in schools, AAP advises confidentiality due to the stigma that having head lice can bring to a student and family. The infected child’s caregivers should be notified by phone or through a note sent home with the student at the end of the school day with recommendations for prompt and proper treatment. 

Head lice screening programs in schools have not been proven to reduce the incidence of head lice in schools, are not cost-effective, and may stigmatize children suspected of having head lice, the AAP guidance says. Instead, schools should increase understanding and management in the community, including communicating that head lice is not a public health hazard, an indication of poor health, or responsible for spreading any disease.
The AAP guidance, an update from 2015, aligns with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). Previous AAP guidance also discouraged the exclusion of infected children from school, but the new recommendations share newer, safer topical treatments and describe the drawbacks of certain school head lice policies.

To access the AAP guidance document, click here.

Links to head lice guidance from AAP, CDC, and NASN can be accessed on the PAPSA website under the “Resources” drop-down and clicking on “Downloads” or by clicking here.

For more information from K-12 Dive, click here.

Source: K-12 Dive