On Tuesday I finally carved out a day to work away from school to attempt to catch up on the many items I never seem to get to on a given day. I had my list ready, coverage was in place, and I looked forward to an uninterrupted chunk of time. By 9:30 I had a call from school that two more cases of lice had been discovered and I was on my way to the Seed. When I arrived, teachers were already in lice prevention mode, bagging up bedding, stuffed animals, cloth cushions, and other items that could potentially host the little creatures we have developed a long relationship with for over two decades. An impromptu plan was in place for checking the heads of classmates and all I ended up having to do was take home the bedding necessary for the day’s naps, wash and return it to school. We’ve become a well-oiled anti-lice machine at the Seed. We’ve had plenty of experience that has brought us to this point.
In 1984 someone had head lice at the beginning of the school year. We did our best to extract them from the school, but didn’t really have a consistent policy and were still figuring it all out. If lice were discovered, children were sent home for treatment and then returned to school. Some still had nits (the eggs laid by lice) in their hair and we learned the hard way that the treatment products don’t always kill all of the nits. Essentially, children kept infesting and re-infesting each other. The stress level was high and that was the year the assistant director and I dressed up in black vinyl lice buster costumes for Halloween. Needless to say, the situation was mildly out of control. It took us until November to finally rid the Seed of lice. We ended up checking every child for two weeks and not letting anyone in if they had any nits in their hair. Some parents were angry with this policy, most were politely grateful that we took the stand we did.
The lice world has evolved considerably since those days. There are better and more varied products that are less toxic. Some amazing lice combs have been invented, including the battery operated Lice Zapper, which electrically shocks nits and lice without the use of chemicals. One of the most ingenious changes is the presence of the Lice Lady. In response to her child’s case of lice, she created Total Lice Control (http://www.totallicecontrol.com) that provides comb outs and advice for eliminating lice in the home. Although there are still many opinions about nits in school, we have decided to stick with what’s worked for us. There is nothing fun about lice, except perhaps the camaraderie some of us have developed during the hundreds of hours we’ve spent checking heads over the years. One of the most significant friendships of my life developed as a result of head lice. It’s one of those situations that will continue to arise, so we accept it as part of life in a school and make the best of it. Happy picking, everyone.