LEWISTON — Martin Thomas said his granddaughters have had lice several times this year from cases in at least one granddaughter’s classroom at Robert V. Connors Elementary School.

He said his daughter-in-law has spent hundreds of dollars to have his granddaughters’ hair professionally treated at Lice Clinics of America in Portland. That’s in addition to using the coin-operated washer and dryer at her apartment building to wash bedding and other items on which lice will infest.

Thomas said she spent all her Christmas money for the treatments and has no budget for gifts.

On at least two days in October, one of the girls’ teachers sent out a group text Oct. 4 informing parents of a “bad” outbreak of head lice within her classroom. Parents were asked to check their children’s heads and to have their daughters’ hair braided or tied up before sending them to school.

It was followed by another message Oct. 11 informing parents that lice continued to be a “big problem within our classroom.” The teacher reminded parents about the importance of daily hygiene, taking baths, using soap and water, brushing teeth and hair, and wearing clean clothes.

Thomas said his granddaughters need to be professionally treated again this week for lice. Their mother is inclined to keep them out of school, but with a baby to take care of it would be difficult for her to home school them, he said.


Thomas said he is frustrated there are not better policies in place to prevent children from coming back to school with lice, he said.

Superintendent Jake Langlais said the School Department’s policy is to send children home for treatment when a school nurse has determined they have head lice. Children are screened again for lice after they have been treated and return to school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses do not recommend policies that require a child to be free of lice nits, or eggs, before they can return to school, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Such policies result in unnecessary absenteeism, and that negative result outweighs the risks associated with head lice, it said.

Head lice have not been shown to spread disease but they are a nuisance, according to the CDC. Personal hygiene or cleanliness has nothing to do with head lice. The CDC recommends against schools sending students home early if they are determined to have lice, rather they should go home at the end of the day and be treated.

Thomas said the recommendations do nothing to stop the spread of lice and prevent being infested more than once. It prevents them from being able to go to day care or other types of after-school care situations parents rely on.

“So, all these parents are supposed to keep treating these kids and then sending them back to school to get it again” he said. “That’s not OK.”


Lice treatments can be purchased over the counter at most drug stores. People who have MaineCare coverage can get Natroba, a lice treatment, at no cost with a prescription from a medical professional.

Lewiston schools do not send children home with lice treatments.

Langlais said the lice situation in city schools seems normal, but sometimes there are upticks in cases. School nurses are not asked to treat students but they will send children home with information on how to treat it.

When it comes to lice in schools, the superintendent advises parents and guardians to stick to the facts, treat lice appropriately, follow guidance provided by the schools, use resources available if they need financial assistance and remember that head lice can happen anywhere to almost anyone.

Signs of a lice infestation include a tickling feeling on the scalp or hair, itching, sleeping difficulties due to irritation, head irritation and sores. Lice spread by crawling from one head to another or crawling from an item onto someone’s head.

For more information about lice and how to treat it visit the CDC website.

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