Schools Aren't Sending Kids with Lice Home Because It Hurts Their Feelings

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In schools across America, there are children whose scalps have become itchy, sexual playgrounds for blood-sucking, parasitic insects known as lice. This has happened throughout history and schools used to send these kids home so they wouldn't spread the bugs to other children. That's changed recently, because schools say kids were getting embarrassed. Now parents are left with one inevitable question: Is saving the other kid's ego worth risking your own child's pristine scalp? 

Schools say it is. They've begun relaxing rules about sending itchy kids home and not sending a note (that note) alerting other parents that one of the tiny humans that shares classrooms with their own children has parasitic insects in their hair. 

"Lice is icky, but it's not dangerous ... It's not infectious, and it's fairly easy to treat." Deborah Pontius, the school nurse for the Pershing County School District in Lovelock, Nev. told the AP.  Pontius's policy is in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses, who adopted policies in 2010 and 2011 that try not to hurt lice-infested kids' feelings. 

The CDC estimates there are up to 12 million head lice infestations in children aged 3-to-11 each year, and says that the insects are spread by direct contact with people who are infected. 

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There are some parents who don't feel these laissez-faire lice policies are a good thing. Theresa Rice from Tennessee has had to treat her daughter Jenna for lice three times since school started this August. ("I'm appalled. I am just so disgusted," Rice told the AP.) Jenna goes to one of those hippy dippy schools where kids' feelings are more valued than Jenna's blonde hair. Although Jenna could possibly be the Typhoid Mary and be part of the problem. The no-shaming policy actually makes it hard to tell who the original sources is.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.