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New Rochelle Schools 'No-Nit Policy' Prevents Lice

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The City of New Rochelle School District “no-nit” policy helps to prevent the spread of head lice in all schools throughout the district. William B. Ward Elementary School Registered Nurse Margaret Murphy says the policy limits the parasite from spreading, should it reach a member of the district community’s head.

“It’s great,” said Murphy. “It prevents the spread of the lice in the school.”

While there haven’t been any reported cases at Ward, the school said it is ready for action should any arise.

Any child who should happen to come into contact with the infection is sent home until they have been cleared. The child’s parent must contact the school nurse when they feel it is safe for the child to return. The school nurse then gives clearance for the child to return to class.

According to head lice information from school district’s health services department, it is aware that having head lice affect your family is a nuisance.

“Our goal is to limit the number of families affected,” it said. If a student has been treated effectively and is free of nits, we know that the student will not bring the problem to other students or staff and their families.”

Pediculus humanus capitis: the formal Latin name is impressive, but the common head louse – tiny and wingless – makes its presence known in the sheer number of those it affects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that six to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children ages 3 to 11.

According to the CDC, head lice are parasitic insects often found on the head, eyebrows and eyelashes of people. And while they do feed on human blood several times a day and thrive living in proximity to the scalp, head lice do not spread disease. They take three forms: egg (also called a nit), nymph and adult.

Infestation with head lice is most common among pre-schoolchildren who attend childcare and in elementary schoolchildren – and then the household members of infested children, said reports by the CDC.

The CDC states, head lice do not hop or fly – instead, they crawl. They are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person, and anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk.

But contrary to old wives' tales, head lice are not spread through contact with clothing (hats, scarves, coats) or other personal items (combs, brushes, towels) used by an infested person. Therefore personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school is irrelevant to the spread of head lice.

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