Nit picky policy on head lice is changing

Talk about a nit picky story! Just the mention of the word lice sends some into an itching frenzy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are between six million to 12 million head lice infestations each year in the United States among children ages three to eleven.

With that kind of a problem, news that head lice policies are being relaxed has some parents scratching their heads and asking why. Several states, including California, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Tennessee{}no longer send children who have head lice home. No longer{}do parents receive notes advising them that a child in the class has head lice and alerting them their child could also be infected.{}The reasons for the policy relaxation is so that children won't have to miss class, children won't be embarrassed, and privacy issues will be protected.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines in 2010 to{}recommend infested students no be excluded at schools. The National Association of School Nurses revised its policy in 2011 to reflect the same thinking.The CDC acknowledges that while head lice are itchy and not easy to deal with, {}lice don't spread disease and are not a health hazard. In fact, the CDC advises that the nits are "unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people."

Lice are tiny grayish-white bugs that infest a scalp. The bugs don't jump or fly. They crawl to the next victim. The CDC points out lice are not a sign of poor hygiene. Parents with elementary-aged children are advised to check children's hair for lice once each week.