Some parents are scratching their heads, wondering why their kids’ schools aren’t doing more to stop lice from spreading. The schools say that’s because while lice is annoying and frustrating, it’s not a health concern and kids can’t miss so much school.
“That’s just wrong,” says George Blagojevic from North Webster, whose three daughters were recently sent home with head lice. "This is an ongoing thing. It's twice a year. During the summer I never have any problem with it. They go back to school. Problem."
Blagojevic’s daughters are in the Wawasee School District and say they can actually see bugs in their friends’ hair. Health officials say it’s common for groups of friends to all get lice at once.
"If you could stand right across from one of your friends and their heads are down you can see little bugs crawling on them," explains Tatyana Blagojevic, George’s daughter. “It’s super itchy and it’s really bad.”
Blagojevic says it’s frustrating and expensive to get the bugs out of his daughters’ hair and out of their home. He wants the schools to check the students for lice and require them to go home if they’re infected so the lice don’t spread.
"Parents should take care of it, but also the schools should. 'Hey if you're infected or there's a problem, you need to take care of this before you come back to school,' and parents will be forced to take care of the problem."
"It's annoying and it's certainly not pleasant and I'm extremely empathic to anybody that has to put up with it,” explains North Webster Elementary School Principal Kris Woodard. “But it's really not a health threat. It's a nuisance. And so for us to deny children educational opportunities for that is difficult."
While every district has a different policy, Woodard says the state Health Department recommends that children stay at school, even if they have lice, because they can’t miss so many days of class. While getting lice is disheartening, school officials say, it’s not dangerous for a child’s health.
"They've requested over time that we change the policy so that there aren't children missing opportunities for education due to a problem that's more of a nuisance than an actual health threat,” Woodard explains. "If they're frustrated and upset about the situation then they need to contact us and we will do our best to work with them."
The school’s nurse suggests parents carefully comb through their kids’ hair once a week. She says call it “Friday Night Lice.” She also says dandruff will flake right off, while you’ll physically have to pull lice off with your fingernail or brush. Special shampoo is also available at the drug store.
Parents should also talk to their kids about sharing things like hairbrushes, helmets and hats with their friends and teammates. A local hairdresser shares her experiences with kids and head lice.
"Through the school season, when it starts in August until it lets out in June, probably about one in every five that walk in the door,” Samantha Sinn says. “And it's not just kids. It's adults. It's grandparents. It's people that go to movie theaters. You can get it anywhere."