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New Texas law sets strict guidelines for schools when it comes to lice

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A new Texas law is aimed at educating parents about the health of their kids. Senate Bill 1566, which went into effect on Sept. 1, requires schools to notify parents within 48 hours if their child is found with lice.

It also requires the districts to notify other parents in the classroom within five days.

“If it's in the classroom I really want to know, but if it's not in their classroom it's just a good idea to know,” said father David Namiot.

Namiot says he’s not a so-called germophobe but he does try to talk to his kids about washing their hands regularly and keeping clean. But he likes to know when something is going around the school.

“When they send those kinds of notes home, I check and make sure the kids are squared away,” he said.

Parent Jose Favela agrees.

“Your first interest is your child's safety and your child's health, but you can't always keep them in a bubble so you have to just make sure you're checking up on everything day by day,” Favela said. “As long as they're letting us know so that we could be checking our kids, I think it's fine.”

However, the law doesn’t require students to stay home if they are found to have lice or force schools to excuse the absence.

KFOX14 checked with local school districts about their policies when it comes to lice.

Ysleta Independent School District spokesperson Chris Lechuga says the district’s policies haven’t changed, and students are given excused absences.

For San Elizario Independent School District, the policy is to not excuse the absences but let the parents know that their children cannot return to school until they are treated, according to spokesperson Hector Gonzalez. They also send home educational materials with the students.

Clint Independent School District sends the students home as an excused absence.

The other Borderland school districts didn’t return KFOX14 requests for information but answered some questions about school policies earlier this year.

The El Paso operations manager of the Lice Clinic of America, Pedro Gonzalez, says he’s undecided about whether students should stay home.

“I'm kind of on the fence there. I don't want other kids to get lice but I also want that kid to learn and if they're at home, they're not going to be able to learn,” Gonzalez said.

His clinic uses an AirAllé machine to get rid of not only the lice but also their eggs.

He says he thinks the letters home to parents are a good idea.

“Not many parents are going to be checking their heads if they don't know,” Gonzalez said. “A letter could instigate parents to check their child's head.”

He encourages parents to not panic if their kid is found to have lice and to understand that there are options that are more effective than over-the-counter drugs.

“They don't need to freak out. Everybody gets lice, and if someone around them happens to have lice, that's OK,” Gonzalez said.

His clinic offers lice checks for $15 and treatments for anywhere from $45 to $200.

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For parents who are worried about lice, Gonzalez advises them to check kids’ hair at least once a week, use tea tree oil products and tie their kids’ hair up.

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