Parents not informed about schools' lice outbreaks - WSMV Channel 4

Parents not informed about schools' lice outbreaks

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

Head lice can be a nightmare that sends shivers down parents' spines, and an infestation can be an expensive, embarrassing and persistent problem.

That is why many moms and dads can't believe that most, if not all, Middle Tennessee schools do not inform parents when their child's school has a lice outbreak.

The Discovery School in Murfreesboro was recently named one of the best schools in America. That is an accomplishment the school district is understandably touting proudly, but a lice outbreak at the Discovery School has received far less attention.

In fact, parents said they were never informed that there were any cases at the school.

The parents who contacted Channel 4 News about this story did not want to appear on camera for an interview, but they said they wished the school would have informed them and other parents of a potential lice problem.

Officials from Murfreesboro City Schools have not returned Channel 4 News' calls to explain why the district doesn't notify parents of a lice outbreak.

Rutherford County Schools' policy is to send students with lice home, and they are not allowed to return until they are nit-free. But, again, they do not inform other parents.

It's a nit-wit policy to parents like Jared Haswinkle who say the school wouldn't need to identify the child affected, rather just inform of a potential problem with other students.

"I think it's important. Really, 'Why not tell parents' is the better question to ask. We don't need our kids having that. It's a mess," Haswinkle said. "They don't have to pinpoint the child that it is, because that's embarrassing to the parents sometimes in that situation, but it's nice to know that it's there."

While this might start sounding like parents versus the government, it is not quite. In fact, the state health department is on the parents' side. They think a note should go home to all parents at a school that has a lice problem.

"Lice are a parasitic insect, and they are a nuisance in the school setting. So, just some advice about how to treat head lice and how to identify head lice - that would be good information for the schools to send home to parents when there is a problem with head lice in the school," said Dr. John Dunn, with the Tennessee Department of Health.

The parents' argument is they would know to look for it, take simple precautions and even read about the different treatments available, rather than just find lice on their child's head one day.

The state health department does not keep track of lice cases or ask schools to report lice outbreaks, because lice are not communicable and carry no diseases.

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