October 27, 2008,
J.C. asks from Mogadore, OH on October 24, 2008
Head Lice and School
My 7 yr old daughter was sent home last week with head lice. I was a bit furious because she started a new school this yr and we have never had a problem with this in the past. She had perfect attendance until this happened, and I was told that she could not return until she was completely lice, and nit free. Well that was a 3 day process. She had to be cleared by the nurse before she was able to return to class. I also discovered that my daughter is forced to share a locker with 3 other kids. I feel that this is unsanitary, and unacceptable. I did call the principal to complain, and all she said was I will see what I can do, and still has not done nothing. When I took her back to the school to be checked there were like 20 other kids waiting to be checked and to be sent home. I was also told that they have seen 100 cases out of 355 kids so far this year. I don't understand why this is such a problem in our public schools. I also don't understand why I got a letter sent home from the principal stating that her absence from school would be considered as unexcused when I was told that she could not return until she was cleaned up. I am just furious, and am actually considering pulling her out of school all together and home schooling her. I am ready to take this to the board, but feel that I am too mad to talk reasonable to them at this point. Any suggestions on how I can handle this problem without making myself look like the "problem parent"? Has anyone esle had problems with head lice and school, and if so how was it handled in your district?
So What Happened?™
Thanks for the advice, but let me elaborate. I never said that having lice makes you a dirty person. I in fact know that lice like clean hair. I am not mad that they would not let her return to school. I am however upset that they are holding it against her in her school files. I did get some good advice about calling the Dr to get an excuse, and that is what i am going to do. I still don't know what to do about the locker situation because she has 28 kids in her class. I was told that she may not place her coat and book bag on the back of her chair as I suggested. I have been considering homeschooling her since we moved here in August. I can't afford private schools, and I was not and still not too happy with the district. It is so much different than the very small village of Mogadore that we moved from. I am also concerned for my youngest son who has heart defects and bringing home so many things from school can and is putting his health at risk. So lice is not the only reason that I have been pondering the homeschooling issue. I have a niece that home schools all 4 of her kids and they are very well mannered kids and have great social skills so that is not an issue for me. Once again thanks so much for the advice. It really has helped:)
G.L. answers from Cincinnati on October 25, 2008
Well J. in this world there are all kinds of situations we have to deal with. Parents that doesnt have any knowledge of lice and etc. But I my self would always take in a box of plastic garbage bags in the beginning of the year my kids would start using them on day 1 of school.I did this 1 year asked the teacher if she would start allowing the students to use them she said yes and that year there were 0 cases in that class. I also bought spray when i heard there was some cases in my kids class, they had carpet in the room and a couch.Get on the computer and find some solution of what to use to help the situation, The lice shampoo i heard is not effective too much any more......
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K.M. answers from Cleveland on October 25, 2008
Okay, here is what I have done in the past and since have not had any problems. You can purchase on the internet something called Neem oil. It is a natural oil that comes from the Neem tree in the Wetlands. This natural oil destroys the ecosystem of the little bugs. It is also good for fleas and insect pests. After the head is treated and you comb those things out you can safely put the neem oil I think 20 drops into your shampoo you normally use and it will keep all those types of bugs away from your child's head. It's also safe since you don't have to use a chemical on their head. I've been using it for over 9 years and we haven't had another problem since. At least that is how you can take control so your child doesn't get it again, but to handle the school situation, get a group of Mom's together and present it to the school board. I thought if 30% of the school had something they had to close school until it was under control. I normally get a letter about once a year saying that someone in my child's class has lice or someone in the school has it, etc. We haven't had a problem since I've been sneaking Neem oil into the shampoo. It smells really bad but mixed with your favorite shampoo it doesn't smell so bad. My oldest use to use it full strength at night for pimples. The website gives you ideas on how to use the Neem oil it can be used for so much more than just the bugs.
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A.M. answers from Cincinnati on October 24, 2008
As a public school employee, I am so thankful that they won't let children who haven't been cleared with lice back to school. I don't think that it is harsh, I think that it is the best and only preventative method that schools have. Lice does mean dirty or that the child doesn't bathe, it simply means that she got it from someone. As for locker sharing, four seems very excessive. I would continually check with the principal on that matter. And, be sure that your daughter isn't choosing to share b/c these are her friends, etc. Also, try to wash her coat a lot as that is where lice could breed. As for the letter, those are most of the time automatically generated by the school's attendance system. You could call or even get a doctor's note and ask for that to be fixed. Perfect attenadance will be lost, yes, but at least others won't be getting head lice. Finally, I am thinking that home schooling for this issue is a matter of anger on your part at the school...which I understand. I would just advise you to think long and hard about it and the commitment it would take from you and your daughter and the social skills that she would loose. Other than that, it sounds as if the district is handling it pretty standard. Thanks and good luck!
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C.S. answers from Cincinnati on October 25, 2008
I'm a health aide sub for my child's school district. We also have a no lice, no nits policy. This is to keep children from spreading lice to others. It always gets really bad in the fall when kids start bringing in jackets. At all of our schools kids are provided with white plastic garbage bags to keep all their stuff in during the school day. This is a good preventative, but not 100%. If your daughter's hair is long enough, have her keep it up in a ponytail or a bun when she's at school. Also, at our district we expect parents to be able to return their children to school after only one full day's absence. Delousing hair is a long process. It took me ALL DAY to pick the nits out of my son's hair when he had it. Please note that RID does not work very well. There's a more natural way to delouse your child's hair. If you need more details, send me a private message and I'll give you the details. It is wise to continue to check her hair for nits for the next 2 weeks and anytime a letter is sent home that lice have been found in your child's classroom. Last, but not least, buy a GOOD lice comb with metal teeth; the ones that come with the kits are cheep and worthless.
Sorry this was so wordy, good luck.
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M.S. answers from Bloomington on October 25, 2008
what!!!??? fight it! they can't tell her she's not allowed to come to school, then count those absences against her!! that is rediculous. they have to excuse them. it's not like she was expelled... i would be mad too. sorry.
rinse her hair in apple cider vinegar every day for the next month or so. it's smelly........ but harmless......... and the lice hate it. it's much more gentle than any lice shampoo, and a lot less hassle than getting lice again. we lived in an school that got a lot of lice when i was a kid, so that's what we did and it was pretty successful.
i was homeschooled from 2nd grade until i graduated from high school at age 16 and started college early. i think it was a great experience, and had lots of benefits. there were some things i missed out on, like high school drama and peer pressure... but i'm ok with that. :) i was able to learn at my own pace, travel alot, and pursue the things i was most interested in. feel free to send me a personal message about it if you have questions.
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K.L. answers from Indianapolis on October 25, 2008
When my daughter was in elementary school, there was one family and every year it was the same thing. Unfortunately, the little girl always ended up in my daughters class, and same story, same song every year. Our school took measures when lice took up residence. A note went home to all kids in the class, the carpets were vacuumed in that class every day, and coats etc were hung at the kids seats. i.e. no co-mingling of belongings. Because of space, the students normally shared a "cubbie" for their coats, once lice appeared this was no longer used. The principal and/or school nurse should be way more on top of this situation that they are. I am unsure about the absences, as thankfully, we never had lice. Seems to me that it should be an excused absence. Lice is contagious, just as the flu....
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M.R. answers from Cincinnati on October 24, 2008
You would homeschool your kid because she got lice, can't come back til it is cleared up and can't get perfect attendance anymore? I'm really hoping that is a knee-jerk reaction to being angry over the situation.
First of all, people need to realize that having lice isn't a sign of being 'dirty' or 'unkempt'. While lice is an absolute nuisance and pain in the butt, please understand that you or your child didn't do anything wrong nor are you lacking hygiene. In elementary schools these sorts of things happen.
Secondly, it should make sense that your daughter (or any other child) does not return to school until she is lice-free. Let's think about this for a minute - say your daughter's classmate has lice and comes back to school before they are clear. Lice are pretty mobile and can move from person to person. Would it be fair to your daughter to have the classmate with lice come back and possible spread it to your daughter and/or other classmates? Now that's something that would make me very upset: allowing the lice problem to spread and continue without taking due diligence and keeping those with lice home until the problem is solved.
As far as the locker - ask for a separate locker or space to store any belongings that are worn. You might get better results if you approach it from the perspective that "I'm concerned that my daughter will either get re-infested or that other children will be afraid that she will pass on lice by having the contents in close quarters". You definitely have a case to argue your point for an individual locker.
As far as the letter about it being unexcused absences - schedule a conference with the principal and let him/her know that if they are denying her the opportunity to attend due to what they conceive to be a 'health issue' (because if they are not letting her come to school because of lice, it is a health issue), then it is clearly unacceptable to deem the absences unexcused. Has your daughter been to see the doctor due to the lice? If so, have the doctor write a medical note and they will not be able to argue that (trust me, I work in a school!).
Having lice can be really upsetting and disruptive, so my heart goes out to you. I wish people would stop thinking that having lice means someone is dirty, uneducated, or doesn't take care of personal hygiene. Those are unfair stereotypes and it is the kid who suffers the most, even though they are typically innocent bystanders who get dragged into the mess. Do anything and everything you can to rid your child and your home of the lice. Good luck to you and hope it passes soon!
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S.H. answers from Indianapolis on October 25, 2008
I understand your anger towards this issue. First of all, how do three children even share one locker? That might be what I would be most upset about. It is unsanitary, and probably how she came in contact with the lice. However, I do understand why they had to send your daughter home and keep her home. It's the only way they can clear up the problem. However, if it is such a problem at the school, they should consider closing the school for a day, like a Friday, and having the custodial staff do a very thorough clean of the entire school. This would give all the students 3 days to get rid of the lice, and then all students could return on a Monday to a clean school, and then the nurse could do a head check and continue to send home any kids with lice. That is a reasonable way to handle the situation. I think maybe your anger is because the school did not handle such a huge and nasty problem properly. Good luck resolving your problems! I would be upset too!
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C.W. answers from Cincinnati on October 25, 2008
This will be a problem till Christmas break. We have routine issues with head lice at our school which usually ends over Christmas break if the parents are doing their part to get rid of them from the home. I would go to the prinicpal or the school and ask them if this is far thank the absents are unexcused as it's not really your daughter's fault. It's still an absence just not unexcused. I hope you are getting the work she is missing and helping her keep up with her work. It's so hard to miss and keep up with the class when you return.
The sharing of a locker is precisely where she is getting it/ IAt our school as soon as there is an out break the kids keep their coats and backpacks with them all day. I know when guns and knives are making their way into schools your school may frown on this but go to a board meeting. Sumitt in writting what you want to say and be firm about it. Tellthem if you cannot get help with controlling the expenses of getting rid of these critters your going to pull her. Also contact your PTA or PTO President and have it discussed at a genberal as well as a board meeting. BTW you do not need to be on the board to go and bring things up. They should welcome your input. They have children there too and maybe haven't been hit yet but will if it keeps up. Also learn to know what nits look like our school nurse thought one students dandruff was nits. Her mother who does hair had to come in and show her. I got it once and could not get rid of the nits. I could not gte the comb through my extremely thick hair and I refused to cut my waist length hair.I just reshanmpooed my hair did it twice and never had an out break again. Our local pool was where the kids were getting it that year. Picking up the wrong towels and cobs. Our pool now checks every head and you don't get in if infected.
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