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Honolulu schools to let kids with lice stay in class

Honolulu students who get lice next year can stay in schools that are included in a new education department policy.

Schools currently send students home for treatment, KHON-TV reported.

It's unclear why the new procedure will only apply to Farrington-Kalani-Kaiser Complex schools.

Hawaii Department of Education officials say the policy is based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The American Academy of Pediatrics contends that children should not be kept home from school because of lice.

"Most cases of head lice are acquired outside of school... The AAP continues to recommend that a healthy child should not be restricted from attending school because of head lice or nits (eggs)," the group said in a statement last year. "Pediatricians are encouraged to educate schools and communities that no-nit policies are unjust and should be abandoned. Children can finish the school day, be treated, and return to school."

Parents concerned over new head lice guidelines

In Honolulu, a letter sent to parents says absences due to lice contribute to chronic absenteeism, though the department does not track that data.

The school will notify parents if their child has lice. The student can stay in class if the parent is not able or doesn't want to pick the child up. "The student will go back to class and remain in school until the end of the school day," the letter said.

Dr. Kalani Brady, a physician who teaches at the University of Hawaii, told KHON-TV that parents shouldn't worry about the change. "What we've discovered in observation is the transmission of (lice) is not really high, and that's why the DOE has made that recommendation," Brady said.

But that hasn't convinced many parents who are unhappy with the department's letter. "It's disgusting to me," parent Keesha Boyer told the local station. "Is the kid really going to sit there and be comfortable learning, knowing that he has (lice) in his head and scratching and going crazy? His focus is not going to be on the learning."

Boyer said it doesn't make sense to treat her sons for lice just for the boys to catch it again at Kalihi Kai Elementary School.

"He's going to come home, and I'm going to have to treat it, spend hours treating my household, me, my kids, my furniture, my carpet. It gets everywhere," she said. "And then go to school the next day and catch it again? Am I really gonna be doing this constantly?"

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