Students with live lice will be sent home from school, but will be allowed to return between treatments even if they still have nits, according to the Prince Edward Island English Language School Board’s newly adopted policy.

The six legged, blood-sucking insects live on the scalps of humans, where they eat and multiply. The board now has a written protocol for handling the notoriously hard to get rid of pests.

Bob Andrews, director of school effectiveness, said the protocol was developed with advice from Health PEI and the Canadian Pediatric Society.

Island children will be allowed to return to school between the first and second treatments, even if they have nits or eggs.

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An electron microscope image of a head louse viewed through magnifying glasses. ((Frank Gunn/Canadian Press))

 

Head lice may lead to headaches for parents, teachers and health-care providers, but medical experts say head lice are not a health risk.

Andrews said each school will notify parents about the new protocol.

"We've asked principals to share that in a way that's appropriate for their school community. Could be in their newsletter, could be at meet-the-teacher night, could be on their website, or could be a letter home to parents. So the expectation is that all parents in all 57 of our schools would receive this protocol in one of those forms, at the start of the school year," he said.

Andrews said he's only heard from one school so far that is dealing with lice.

Andrews said parents of students in a class, or the whole school, may be notified depending on the number affected.

He said if there’s a chronic problem with a student, or if more than half the class has lice, Health PEI will be asked to help.

For mobile device users: Do you think students should be able to return to school even if they aren't lice free?