For years, school nurse Deborah Pontius came to work with nits to pick. On some days in this isolated central Nevada town, she'd actually sift through the hair of students found with live head lice.
But something bigger bugged her: the district's policy of sending children home when they were infested with head lice — grayish-white insects that suck blood from the scalp and cause severe itching.
Pontius saw stricken students miss weeks of school. A reentry ticket involved painstaking inspections, with parents required to prove that not a single hitchhiker resided on a child's head. Aside from the "ick" factor, she wondered, was there a reason to quarantine the youngsters?