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January 31, 2014

N.H. schools change head lice policies

Head lice sends fewer students home

Derry resident Beth Doherty said there’s one thing that schools should do if one of their students has head lice.

“They should be sent home,” she said. “The longer they are there, the longer the bugs stick around and the chances of kids getting it are very high.”

But Doherty’s beliefs clash with what the New Hampshire Department of Education recommends. The department encourages districts to keep students in school, even if lice are found, according to the website.

“The student should be allowed to remain in the classroom that day if comfortable and return to school the following day,” the website reads. “There is no research data that demonstrates that enforced exclusion policies are effective in reducing the transmission of lice.”

No one from the Department of Education could speak to the policy yesterday. The state cut its school health service consultant from last year’s budget.

The rationale behind the policy is to keep students in school.

“The management of (head lice) should proceed so as to not disrupt the education process,” the website reads.

But districts around the region handle lice differently.

Sanborn superintendent Brian Blake said his district adheres to what the state recommends.

“I think, over time, the whole thought was that they needed to be isolated and quarantined.” Blake said.”That’s not as accurate anymore. We don’t isolate students. We try to work closely with families to eradicate the issue, but we also need to try to maintain the kid’s normal schedule. We don’t want them missing school time.”

Londonderry takes a completely different approach.

“We have a no nit policy, so we send them home right away,” said Kim Carpinone, director of student services in Londonderry. “They stay home until the nits are gone.”

Christine Cherry, owner of Nits End Head Lice Removal in Plaistow, said the trend of schools keeping students in class has grown in the last couple of years.

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