Reno mom Sara Kopp searches through every strand of her daughter’s blond hair at least once a week.
She meticulously combs through it, watching for lice after treating her 10-year-old for the bugs 15 times over the school year.
“When I realized my daughter had it after brushing her hair, I called the school immediately, told them I was keeping her home to treat it and she’d be back tomorrow,” said Kopp.
What surprised Kopp the most was that the Washoe County School District didn’t seemed concerned.
She has treated her daughter more than a dozen times since September and started an online petition at change.org demanding the district change its policy that allows students with lice to participate in all activities.
See petition started by Reno mom here:
Kopp said she believes her daughter is repeatedly infected with lice by students allowed to stay in school untreated.
More than 1,700 people have signed the petition, many commenting about battling the bugs after exposure at school.
The school district said it follows national standards and does not exclude students with lice or force those with lice to seek treatment.
“We don’t go around looking for it," said Jennifer Crane, the school district's assistant director of student health services. “But we don’t turn a blind eye.”
She said the district does not track reported cases, but said it follows recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which does not recommend students with lice be excluded from school.
But the national health institute does say students can go home at the end of the day, be treated and return to class after treatment has begun.
The Washoe County Health Department said on its website children need to stay home until the first treatment is given and no live lice are seen.
The school district’s policy says students who do not appear to have received treatment will be identified as having a chronic case and parents will be provided with additional support.
Crane said the district would like a child to receive treatment and can provide resources, including financial, to a family, but treatment is not required to return to school.
The Clark County School District’s Policy is tougher. If there is a question or evidence of head lice, the school nurse is contacted, an exam is done and it is documented. A notice with instructions on how to get rid of lice is sent home with the student and the parents or guardians of each classmate in the classroom are notified.
While the student does not need to be egg- or nit-free to return, a no-nit policy may be implemented if the student has a second infestation within a school year.
Reno mom Chesa Adams said the Washoe County district’s policy isn’t enough.
Last year, she treated her 11-year-old five times for lice. She believes her daughter was getting it from classmates.
"It’s not going to kill anybody, but it’s embarrassing and expensive to treat,” she said.
She said her daughter was bullied after she told classmates she had lice.
“I am upset that the district thinks we shouldn’t panic or be freaked out,” said Reno mom Yvette Schneider.
Her daughter was suffering by scratching her head for several weeks, starting in January. The family had no idea there was a possible lice issue at school.
When it was discovered that the Pine Middle School student had lice, Schneider notified the school. She said no one called her back. Her older daughter, in high school, also then caught lice from her sister.
Crane said it is often too late for a school nurse to confirm a child has lice if treatments have begun at home and thus a classroom notification is not issued.
Schneider paid $1,000 for the Lice Doctors, a national chain that sends technicians to your home to professionally remove lice and eggs. The company said business is booming as more school districts across the country follow more lax procedures and allow students to stay in school untreated.
Schneider said the technician was told more middle and high school students are spreading lice because of selfies and students putting their heads together for photos.
Schneider said lice infestation has been tough and affected her children and their schoolwork. The treatment itself took 10 hours and follow-up treatments have been time consuming.
Schneider said she is mad that the district’s policy doesn’t address lice spreading from student to student.
“I’m mad about the cost and time and that it could just happen again,” she said.
“I wish the district wouldn’t just say they are relying on national best practices. Instead look at how it is affecting families and students in your district.”