Briarcliff Schools Modify Head Lice Policy

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Members of the Briarcliff Board of Education talk about revising the district's head lice policy Tuesday evening. Photo Credit: Nathan Bruttell

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – When it comes to fighting head lice in the Briarcliff Manor School District, Sal Maglietta said it is going to be an uphill battle.

“You’re never going to eliminate it,” Maglietta, the school board president, said Tuesday night. “It can be reduced but you're never going to be able to eliminate this in our schools.”

Members with the Briarcliff Manor Board of Education said Tuesday night during a work session that the district’s lice policies would need some re-evaluation but that school officials were close to a possible solution.  With the proposed policy, parents would be called immediately after lice or nits are found and only students with live lice would be asked to leave the classroom until he or she is picked up by a parent. The proposal also dictates that the school nurse would provide guidelines for staff working with the student.

Board Vice President Jennifer Rosen said the proposal lacked information on what steps the students and families affected would need to take.

“It’s not a health issue according to the powers that be but it is an issue that affects a lot of people in a lot of ways,” Rosen said. “We’re close but we’re not close enough. We need to make sure parents understand their roles in this process.”

Briarcliff School District officials have said they do not feel a “No Nit” policy would be best for the district.
“In accordance with the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and in order not to disrupt the educational process, the Briarcliff Manor School District does not have a ‘no nit’ policy,” officials wrote in the proposed policy.

Several parents and Briarcliff PTA members asked the Board of Education in June to re-evaluate its procedures and asked that the board adopt a “No Nit,” or no egg, policy. Nora Johnson, co-president of the BPTA, said Wednesday that members were “pleased with the proposed policy.”

“The BPTA understands that the ‘No Nit’ policies of the past will not work in today's enlightened educational environment,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “What this policy offers is the best opportunity to contain the spread of lice, while accommodating the dignity of the students. Lice happens in all schools, but our goal here is to detect it as early as possible, minimize the spread of it and educate parents and students how to prevent future outbreaks. The BPTA would like to thank the administration, the school nurses, the school principals and the school physician for working with us to arrive at a policy that makes sense to our community.”

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IdentifyUS LLC:

Many presumed cases of head lice can be quickly and effectively eliminated by ensuring proper diagnosis. The majority of kids thought to be infested are not. This is a huge problem, and one of the many reasons why the no-nit policy is fatally flawed. Eliminating that archaic and unjustified policy is a good step. Next, the school board might consider eliminating the no-louse policy and the procedure to immediately phone parents when lice or nits are suspected. Many other schools have dropped the misguided and fear-based policies. Despite initial worries by some folks, no outbreaks ensued. In fact, most 'outbreaks' are from rampant misdiagnosis, not from genuine lice.

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