District Nurse Dianne Holme discussed recommendation to allow students with live lice to continue at school

(Image is Clickable Link) PHOTO BY GORDON ON FLICKR - As of now, Canby's policy is unchanged and continues to not allow students with live lice to be at school.

A discussion about the district's lice policy took place at a recent school board meeting, as District Nurse Dianne Holme explained the rationale behind allowing students with live lice to continue at school as recommended by Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education. After discussion though, no changes were made to policy.

Canby School District's current policy, adopted in 2016, excludes students with live lice from school. They can be readmitted after designated personnel confirm no lice are present. Students with nits only can continue at school, according to the Pediculosis (Head Lice) Policy JHCCF.

While districts are free to determine how they want to address the issue of head lice, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education have recommendations that differ from Canby's policy, as Holme explained. They recommend letting kids with live lice continue at school.

District Communications Coordinator Autumn Foster said that nurse Holme is not in a position to give her opinion on the subject, but ODE provided information about their recommendations.

To prevent disruption of the educational process, ODE recommends allowing students to remain in class and participate in school-sponsored activities when live lice or nits are present. As best practice, they suggest educating families and students about head lice, including life cycle, mode of transmission, importance of regular surveillance at home, recommended treatment options and more. They also advise schools to provide confidential screening and to eliminate classroom-wide or school-wide head lice notifications.

"The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the perceived risks associated with head lice," says ODE's Head Lice Guidance.

ODE's guidance notes that head lice are not known to cause disease, but can lead to secondary bacterial infection of the skin due to contaminated scratching.

After discussion at the June 7 school board meeting, Canby's school board suggested that the community should be informed and educated on the new guidance prior to making any changes to policy. So for the time being, children who have live lice will continue to be excluded from school.

"Nothing has happened. Nothing is planned to happen at this point," Foster said. "I think we will be doing some outreach to families about head lice coming up in the new year, typical to what we normally do, but kind of explaining the difference between live lice and nits and things a little bit more in detail.

"Nothing has changed. Our policy is the same," she added.

Kristen Wohlers
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