'Excluded' for nits - is this acceptable?

(188 Posts)
weblette Mon 21-Oct-13 21:58:41

Posting on behalf of a friend although ds3 has been 'affected' too.

Ds3's yr1 has a problem with nits - or parents not treating...
Goodness knows I know about it, despite combing all of my four every week, he always has a new adult or five on a Sunday night.

Friend was called by school on Thursday am - "she has nits, come and collect her" - told to take her home for the day. Friend had combed dd at the weekend, cleared a few so head was nitless but now had several large adults. Luckily she wasn't working so took dd home, wet combed, applied lotions, head nit-free. However her dd had to stay at home for the day.

Next morning, call from school - we've found a nit in her fringe, come and collect her again. Not withstanding the fact that adults don't just drop out of a child's head and she had no others, was any of this legal?

With 4 dcs I understand completely how utterly frustrating it is to have untreated nits in a year group. I've lost count of the the hours wasted tbh...

However to me it sounds so very dodgy on so many fronts - there is nothing on the school website about sending a child home if they have nits. How can they justify a child losing a day's education on that basis?

Friend is fuming and wants to know how best to approach the school about this. Please don't say 'check for nits more regularly', we all do atm...

Needmoresleep Mon 28-Oct-13 10:29:42

Who would have though a thread of nits would have created a wave of nostalgia. Ds had two major episodes at Primary. One after a residential football camp. Dd was a nit magnet. Neither have had them at secondary.

They were at a private prep where kids with nits were isolated and parents would have to pick them up. They also did preventative things: letters would go out to the rest of the class if nits were around; if things got really bad the school nurse would check hair; there were occasional nit nights when everyone was asked to treat. On one memorable occasion kids who brought back a signed form confirming treatment got a lolly, if they also brought a louse encased in sellotape they got two. There was also a well publicised science experiment where a louse was taken from a proud donor put in a jar so they could see how long it lived for. Turned out to be two adults, presumably males and female, who had hot rather close. More biology than had been anticipated. They lives for about 24 hours.

I worked full time and was determined not to have to leave work so we got into a regular routine of nit combing, using a good steel toothed comb and lashings of conditioner on a Sunday night whilst watching TV. If anything was found there would be a second thorough comb through that night and again in the morning until nothing was found. Then daily for a week. Tea tree shampoo seemed to help.

I never really saw it as eradicating them. Nits were around and infection was inevitable, whether from inside or outside school. However this approach kept a lid on the problem and I avoided ever having to ask to leave work for such a mummy-type problem.

Full Marks did not work for us. We found the school's matter of fact approach useful, with no indication that anyone felt stigmatised. DC almost certainly had fewer problems that friends at the local state school.

AuntieStella Mon 28-Oct-13 07:11:49

Just wondering - are people aware of life cycle of nit, and how long it takes to eradicate resistant strains?

Because most posters here seem to think their DC would miss an afternoon of school, tops. Not up to 3 weeks per infestation.

DalmationDots Sun 27-Oct-13 22:38:26

nits seemed to just love DDs hair, we treated them weekly- got rid of all of them- and then by the next week they would be back. At times a worrying number. We tried all different treatments and were incredibly thorough but always a week later, they were back.
I guess it was a similar situation, they were just go prevalent in the year group that there was no way to get rid of them because as soon as one child had them, the chain of passing them on couldn't be broken.
School sued to sent letters if parents reported it but it didn't make much difference. I think even if every parent got rid of nits one weekend, they would still spread from children seeing other children out of school etc.
So frustrating, we just kept up with the weekly routine, at some points did it on a sunday and a wednesday or combed every night.
Unfortunately there isn't much you can do other than keep getting rid of them from your own child.
IMO it is very unreasonable of the school to exclude. OK to let the parents know and ask them to treat their DC that night. But it is a fact of life in primary schools nits are constantly going around and some kids will pick them up more easily than others. They are gross but fairly harmless.

Crazycake Sat 26-Oct-13 10:34:12

I've not read the whole thread so I apologise if this has already been said. Once a nit has hatched and fed, they can't feed off a person from a different blood type other than the original host, they explode! An adult can however lay eggs on another host with a different blood type and one the eggs have hatched they can feed from the new blood type iykwim. That is why certain children get them back regularly and other children never get them!

unlucky83 Sat 26-Oct-13 10:19:39

meditrina - 'Persistent' - I mean for months ...not a few weeks...
No doubt the schools are aware of the life cycle of lice and the definition of persistent...
There are some parents who for whatever reason - lack of education, lack of motivation, lack of capacity - just don't treat their children...that is neglect.
(And they need support - which in this area the school are not allowed to supply)

Star ball
All the time not repeatedly. The children who got them repeatedly were the ones like my daughter who would get rid of them only to be reinfected. Again and again and again.

I'm not the violent type but I feel like I'm spoiling for a fight when I mention my battle with them and people suggest ways of getting rid of them. I can get rid of them, I have no problem with that. It didn't stop her coming home with them the next day though.

I wouldn't have minded if she had been sent home to be honest. She might miss a few days but it would make them get the message across to the constant offender who was never treated and it would mean she (and I) would get a few days respite. Y

meditrina Sat 26-Oct-13 09:39:53

If a child had persistent lice - as said up thread - it is neglect - that child has more problems than missing a few days of school -and another agency probably needs to step in.

Not remotely true. Remember that treatment-resistant lice exist. Remember that eggs are cemented on to hair shafts and are never all removed by a single combing. Remember hatchlings emerge at any time between combining. So it could be your DC on whom moving lice are seen day after day for up to 17 days (life cycle of nit) even with 'perfect' combing.

Do you really want that long off school? And other agency involvement in your family because normal nit life-cycle must mean neglect?

NoComet Sat 26-Oct-13 09:14:10

As others have said the DCs most likely to have nits repeatedly are DCs with other problems , not least, not having enough money to keep a car running.

Sending the obvious suspect home equalled a 3 mile walk for the DC and a six mile walk for her carer.

In any case, even when I suspect SS, had had words DD class still got lice.

Gileswithachainsaw Sat 26-Oct-13 08:16:30

This is where it gets ridiculous. A school can send you home fir a uniform violation , take any part if the lunch away if it's not deemed suitable yet allows parents to infest the whole class by not bothering to de flea a child.

What about the rights of the children. Stuff the parents they aren't there to deal with it and why should they be allowed to take the piss.

adoptmama Sat 26-Oct-13 04:27:45

actually prh47bridge what I wrote was So if they call you and tell you that your child is puking with a high fever and you have to take them home, are they excluding your child? Course not and no one would argue they were because they are ill.

so if you are going to quote me, perhaps take the entire quote in context rather than selectively edit for bias.

prh47bridge Sat 26-Oct-13 00:15:38

So if they call you and tell you that your child is puking with a high fever and you have to take them home, are they excluding your child

Of course not. There is a genuine health issue involved in that situation which means the school has every right to remove the child from class to prevent infection and also has every right to tell the parents to take their child home. However, whilst no-one wants nits, they are not a serious health problem so you cannot send a child home or remove them from class on that basis.

* It is ludicrous semantics to suggest the child was illegally excluded because the mother was asked or told to take her home*

I'm sorry you regard the law as ludicrous semantics. It is very straightforward. If the mother was asked to take the child home that is not a problem. If the mother was told to take her home (which is what the OP says happened) it is an illegal exclusion.

This was not an exclusion from what was described

From what was described it definitely was an exclusion. The mother was told to take their child home. That is an informal, and hence automatically illegal, exclusion. Similarly if the child was removed from lessons because she had nits that would be an illegal internal exclusion.

There is no problem with asking the mother to take the child home. Telling the mother to take the child home however crosses the line.

I repeat that I have a lot of sympathy with those who think that children with nits should be sent home but like it or not this is how the law stands.

unlucky83 Fri 25-Oct-13 23:45:44

Star - if this happened in your school the main offender would be the one being sent home - your DC would get them less ...as would every one else - and within a month or so it shouldn't/wouldn't be every other week...
Thus it would be less hassle for the parents - or rather same amount of hassle but less frequently - so they wouldn't be as lackadaisical ... or rather not worn down by the pointlessness of the the whole exercise!

NoComet Fri 25-Oct-13 22:43:59

Lightup believe me you would. If your DC ends up in a class where they bring nits home every other week, you really get to a point where you really don't care.

Yes, we had one main offender, but I suspect we had other parents who thought they had checked and hadn't.

Even DD2's fine hair took over an hour to be pretty sure it was clear. I 'd never ever bet money on there being no lice in DD2's mane or my own for that matter.

And that's the problem, we had tom boy basin cuts in the 70's, not 'bra' strap or longer hair which the girls plait, un-plait, put in a pony tail and then re-plait differently, before the end of morning assembly.

Lightupatnightpants Fri 25-Oct-13 21:32:01

I have no problem with this policy. I hope all schools adopt it. We have thankfully never had nits in our house but if we had there is no way I would send my child to school until I knew they were clear.

unlucky83 Fri 25-Oct-13 21:22:13

How long does it take to thoroughly we comb a child?
Surely not more than an hour or so...no reason child has to be off all day.
If a child had persistent lice - as said up thread - it is neglect - that child has more problems than missing a few days of school -and another agency probably needs to step in.
I would have no problem with mine being 'excluded' for this - I would rather that than have them infecting anyone else...
Of course there is another alternative - having lice is no big deal - so lets all not bother treating them and we all can have lice all the time...

soapboxqueen Fri 25-Oct-13 19:30:18

Children who persistantly have nits are not going to be suddenly free of them because they are sent home once. They will be repeatedly sent home every few weeks for their entire school career. This is why the practise was stopped. All children have a right to an education no matter how much other parents might disagree with it.

Even if an exclusion policy is followed, those mostly vulnerable children who persistently have them, will still have them, they will be educationally disadvantaged but it's okay because a few other children won't get nits as often.

Lovely

adoptmama Fri 25-Oct-13 19:09:21

being a bid pedantic aren't you onemorevoice. Even on the NHS website it does not say it is the 'best method'. Nor did I say it wasn't good - I said it is not enough to 'simply wet comb'. It is clear it needs to be done properly and clear it doesn't protect from reinfestation. I never said nor suggested that the department of health was 'incorrect' to advise wet combing and it is something of an immature response to post in this manner and a rather odd thing to focus on.

I've also said very clearly that the issue isn't really about whether the child was properly deloused or reinfected from a family member or a child at school. The issue is the false assertion the child was excluded and the indignation of the OP and others at the temerity of the school for putting the welfare of all the children above the convenience of the mother. To blithely suggest that an infected child should simply sit in class with lice because it is not an 'infectious illness' and it was inconvenient for the mother to take her home and properly deal with the issue is appalling.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 25-Oct-13 19:01:06

Yes they do advise wet combing but few people do so correctly,if you can't do so correctly then there is not much point to it.

They also DO advise lotions

www.nhs.uk/Livewell/childhealth6-15/Pages/Nits.aspx

Gileswithachainsaw Fri 25-Oct-13 18:58:13

Then where the parents inclination to treat them? If one parent sees it as her or his right to leave her child infested knowing school are powerless to say and do anything then what's the point in people spending ££££ trying to treat their own kids. Because it won't make a bloody difference. Re infestations will permanently occur and people cannot afford to deal with that. Their laughing.

OnemorevoiceforAF Fri 25-Oct-13 18:37:31

Adopt mama, the Department if Health advises wet combing as the best method. So that is not correct.

adoptmama Fri 25-Oct-13 18:32:43

So if they call you and tell you that your child is puking with a high fever and you have to take them home, are they excluding your child? Course not and no one would argue they were because they are ill. Lice may not be an illness but they are very unpleasant and infected children are not comfortable or focussed in school. They are also vulnerable to bullying - lice are frequently very easy to spot crawling around the scalp. It is ludicrous semantics to suggest the child was illegally excluded because the mother was asked or told to take her home and treat her lice properly and thoroughly. This was not an exclusion from what was described, or any inference put on the statements. And since no-one, not even the OP was actually privy to the wording of the phone call from the school it is a pointless debate as

As I have already said, if it is not the parent's responsibility to delouse the child, who does the responsibility belong to? And do you really, truly think the child - and her classmates and the teacher and the teaching assistant - were all better off if she were allowed to stay in school. It is extremely uncommon for lice to transfer without head to head contact. The OP says that the call was in the morning on the Friday. So unless she had already been hugging a classmate the most likely source of the louse is - like it or not - the family. Or she simply had not been deloused properly the day before.

For people to argue the semantics of whether is was an unofficial exclusion to say 'take your child home and sort out her lice' is absolutely bloody ridiculous. Children with lice need to be effectively treated, not simply wet combed and sent to school again with lice still populating their head. I've been flea bit, louse infected, puked on and made sick more times than I can count as a teacher. (I've also been punched, kicked and spat on by kids and sworn at by parents, but those are other stories). It does not seem unreasonable to me that the parent of an infected child take her home and sort out the problem intead of getting irritated that it is not convenient to leave work. It's not bloody convenient for me to get lice off your child, or see other children in the class get infected skin sores from scratching their scalps till they bleed because they are so itchy.

soapboxqueen Fri 25-Oct-13 16:39:13

Being told to take a child home is exclusion. The child is being refused an education, therefore they are excluded. If a child is physically unwell or a threat to the health of others then they can be sent home. Nits are neither an illness to the child who has them nor a risk to other children. They are an unpleasant inconvenience.

Nobody is suggesting that it is ok for children to have nits, especially not persistently. However, some children get them continually. Some instances it is neglect, others it is poor management by parents, some because children are friendly souls and get re-infected often. None of these children deserve to have their education disrupted for something they have no control over.

If sending them home worked, the problem would have been solved long ago. Yes nits are more prevalent now but they weren't none existent years ago either.

prh47bridge Fri 25-Oct-13 14:34:05

That depends whether it is justified on health grounds. If, for example, the child may still be infectious there is a reasonable justification. Nits, however, are not regarded as a serious health issue.

bruffin Fri 25-Oct-13 14:21:42

Isnt the ban on returning to school for 48hrs after sickness illegal as well then.

prh47bridge Fri 25-Oct-13 14:18:34

Mother was called and asked to take child home for treatment on the Thursday as she had nits. Parent was asked to do the same on the Friday as child still had nits. This is not an exclusion.

According to the OP her friend wasn't asked to take her child home, she was told to do so. Like it or not that is an illegal exclusion.

There is nothing wrong with the school ringing the parent and requesting that they take their child home for treatment. It is not ok for them to demand that the parent do so as that is an illegal exclusion. It is also not ok to remove the child from class and keep them elsewhere on the premises as that is an illegal internal exclusion.

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