Should kids with lice stay home? Health officials don't think so - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Should kids with lice stay home? Health officials don't think so

(Image: Flickr Commons) (Image: Flickr Commons)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

For many years, kids found to have lice would be sent home from school immediately. They weren't cleared to return until getting a health check.

Schools are now taking a different stance.

Depending on different factors, children are being allowed to finish the school day when diagnosed and return once treatment has begun. The change is based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses.

"Head lice doesn't cause disease, the big problem is they're a nuisance," said Dr. Glenn Wasserman, chief of the Department of Health’s Communicable Disease and Public Health Nursing Division.

"The risks of missing school for something really minor, which in the past we considered to be a major problem and found to be untrue, is greater than the risks of acquiring them."

Coty Luke, mother of a preschool student, says the change has her bewildered.

"I'm not OK with it," she said. "My daughter has really thick long hair and I've had to deal with it before."

State officials recommended the change to help curb chronic absenteeism. 

But Luke feels the move may backfire, as more healthy students are kept out by worried parents.

"I'm not going to feel comfortable sending my daughter to school with kids with head lice. So I'm going to keep her home and now she's going to miss school," she said.

The change is based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses.

The state Department of Health vetted the recommendations, then backed them. The state Department of Education then followed suit.

DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said schools are obliged to follow what the Department of Health recommends."

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