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Sending kids home for lice unnecessary embarrassment, schools say

Sending kids home for lice unnecessary embarrassment, schools say

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SALT LAKE CITY — The way schools handle a head lice outbreak among students has changed dramatically over the years. They've found the cost of lice screening is no longer worth the benefit.

Schools aren't treating head lice quite like the villain it used to be years ago. Jordan School District head nurse Sharee Merkley said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Academy of Pediatrics have changed their opinion and no longer consider lice a danger or health hazard.

"The stigma that seems to come with head lice, it's really exaggerated," Merkley said. "Head lice is just one of those things that are out there in the community, people can get them."

Jordan and other districts no longer screen for lice and infected kids can go to class as long as they're being treated. Sandy Galovich, a nurse for South Summit School District, said lice takes kids out of class too often and for too long.

"You hate to have them pulled out of school when they are not really sick, and they have probably had it for a while, and (there's) the embarrassment as well," Galovich said.

It is too hard on a student to miss class all the time, she added, and even when they do find lice, the other students have already been exposed.

Merkley said they sometimes get negative reactions from parents when they learn about the new lice policy but most are usually OK with it after getting educated.

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Andy Farnsworth and Brianna Bodily

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