ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. — Parents in Roane County are upset with the school system's lice policy. They are saying kids aren't being sent home when they have an infestation, which is making the problem worse.
Suzanne Eltz said her granddaughter, who's a third grade student in Roane County, has had lice more than five times since the beginning of the school year.
"My granddaughter is just, you know, she's had to have her hair cut short and she cries when she gets it because she doesn't want to go back to school because she knows that's where it's coming from," Eltz said.
The head lice policy at her granddaughter's school says:
"Upon reasonable confirmation of head lice by the principal, his/her designee or school nurse, the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) shall be notified and asked to pick up the student as soon as possible. If parent(s)/guardian(s) cannot be reached, the student will not be denied transportation home. The parent(s)/guardian(s) shall be given a copy of instructions and instructed to refrain from sending the student back to school until the head lice infestation have been properly treated. Students are expected to be treated and return to school within 24 hours for reexamination by the school nurse."
"Nobody is being sent home and nobody wants to single out little Johnny or little Jane, but somehow or another the school needs to stand behind the policy," Eltz explained.
She claimed it stems from how the CDC now views head lice. It has reclassified head lice from a health hazard to a lifestyle choice. The organization declared head lice don't spread disease and you can't catch anything from another person via head lice.
Carissa Arens from the Knoxville Lice Clinic said parents often don't know other students in their child's class have lice, but that's for privacy reasons. She recommended parents with infested kids should let other parents in the classroom know privately to check their children when they go home.
"That means you can't send a child home because of their lifestyle choice," Arens explained.
There are some districts that have "no nit" or "no egg" policies for head lice, But that means kids have to miss school until the lice is gone, which can sometimes be three weeks.
"You're missing a lot of school to try and get rid of head lice," Arens said.
But parents just want the issue to end.
"Why do we have to hide behind policy? Let's fix this," Eltz urged.
We reached out to Roane County Schools for a comment but never heard back.
Arens also mentioned head lice can originate from home. Parents could have it and not realize it, or lice could be left behind from previous infestations.
Is your head itching yet?
Getting rid of a head lice infestation can also be very costly and time consuming.
You have to buy special shampoo and utensils to try and get the nits and bugs out of your child's hair, but it's not just one and done. It's several days of treatment, which equals multiple bottles. At $20 a pop, that adds up.
You also have to disinfect everything at home-- even your car. That includes stuffed animals, toys, their clothes and you have to wash your child's sheets every time they sleep on them.
"So when it costs my daughter $45 to go to the laundromat because she doesn't have a washer and dryer in her place, and the time that that takes that $45 is a significant chunk out of her pocket," Eltz said.
Just think if your child gets lice multiple times or if you have multiple children, that cost multiplies.