‘Lice Lady’ disagrees with new guidance about lice and school kids

New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics says not to send kids home from school if they have head lice. But the "Lice Lady of Westchester" begs to differ.

News 12 Staff

Sep 29, 2022, 5:21 PM

Updated 597 days ago


New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics says not to send kids home from school if they have head lice.
The new approach is to help prevent social stigma and psychological stress. The AAP says head lice is not a health hazard or a result of poor hygiene. They say lice can not jump or hop and can only crawl.
But the "Lice Lady of Westchester" begs to differ. She's been picking lice out of people's hair for 25 years and says transmission is a lot easier than the report suggests, especially when it comes to little kids.
"How are little kids going to avoid close contact? They sit on the rug, the teacher does lessons on the rug. They’re putting their heads together, looking at books together," says Anna Kroche, the Lice Lady of Westchester.
These are prime opportunities for the lice to spread to other students, she says.
School districts like Yonkers have a policy in place that will only send kids home if they have active lice in their hair. If they have knits in their hair, students can still come to school. But Kroche says that's just “knit-picking” and she's going to keep recommending to her clients to keep their kids home. "Especially on that first day. A louse will come into your hair from somebody else, the first bug. Usually that bug will lay eggs the first day. The first bug that travels into your hair will die off, so what remains is those eggs. In about seven to 10 days, those eggs hatch and start its own infestation on your head."
Parents who spoke with News 12 agree with Kroche. "My preference would be that kids not be allowed in school till lice is cleared. No matter how hard you try, kids are going to be kids, and hair on hair is going to happen, which means the lice is going to spread. One kid for us came home with lice, the next thing we knew all five kids had lice. That’s how it is," says Neil Leibowitz, parent
Lice is not only a big inconvenience but can end up being a big financial investment. "We spent hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, maybe a thousand dollars to have it removed for all the kids," says Leibowitz.
The American Academy of Pediatrics report warns that having a child stay home with lice can cause shame and humiliation to the child, but Leibowitz says that can be easily avoided. "When a kid had COVID-19 at my kid's school, they didn’t say the kid had COVID-19. The child stayed home until they got better. Same thing with anything. We don’t want to name the child, that would be unfair and there would be a lot of teasing on both younger and older grades, but there are ways to accomplish the goal without stigmatizing the child."

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