Head Lice Information
Head lice are an occasional annoyance for children in schools. Please check your child’s head every few weeks for signs of lice. It is easier to tackle the issue when lice are found early.
Inspect your child’s head and hair, particularly around the ears and at the nape of the neck. Look for:
Intense itching and/or red marks on the scalp
Tiny oval whitish eggs (nits). Nits are tightly attached to the hair and will not flake off like dandruff or hair product.
Live lice – See the links below for pictures of lice.
To prevent lice, instruct your children not to share combs, brushes, or clothing. Lice do not jump or fly from one person to another. They are transmitted only by close contact with persons or articles such as hats, brushes, combs, pillows, coats, etc. which contain the lice or nits on them.
If you find nits or lice on your child’s head, several steps are needed to get rid of them including correctly using a FDA-appoved lice hair treatment, nit removal and washing all articles in contact with hair in hot water.
If you find your child has lice, please inform the office staff at school so that school lice procedures can be followed. Bring your child to the school office to be checked prior to returning to the classroom. It is also helpful to inform the adults in charge of other children with whom your child has close contact, such as close friends, daycare, sports teams or youth groups. Consult your child’s health care provider if you do not have success treating the lice with over-the-counter products.
- Standard Procedure
- Parent Responsibility
- Teacher Responsibility
- Office Responsibility
- Nurse Responsbility
- Suspected cases of head lice will be referred to trained school staff.
- If students are identified with live lice by either the presence of lice or nits, trained school staff should complete the following by the end of the school day:
- Student may remain in class until the end of the school day.
- Notify teacher and notify parents/guardian.
- If applicable, screen siblings or close contacts for lice, or notify their school.
- The informational information will be sent home with the affected student to the parents/guardians.
- When the student returns following treatment, the classroom teacher will be notified that the student has been rechecked and can return to class.
- Rechecks will be completed by trained school staff. Student may return to class if treatment has been verified by the parent and the student is free of live lice. The student may still have nits.
- The School Nurse may re-check the student at her/his next scheduled work day at school site.
- Any classroom head check procedures will follow recommendations of the OSPI “Infectious Disease Control Guide”. This is generally not recommended unless there is an “outbreak” of 3 or more cases within a consecutive 2-week period.
- Educational information about head lice shall be provided to parents at the beginning of each school year.
- In the case of an “outbreak”, an informational letter will be sent home to families notifying them of head lice in the classroom. A letter may go home in the case of one or two cases if determined necessary by the School Principal or School Nurse.
- Check your student before school starts in the fall and before returning from school breaks.
- Contact the school if you know or suspect that your child has lice.
- Inform family and friends so they can check their children.
- Treat your child and follow “Lice Aren’t Nice” pamphlet instructions to control transmission in the home. This includes combing and picking for nits daily for two weeks.
- Examine all household members and treat anyone infested. DO NOT TREAT children under the age of 2. If a child under the age of two is affected consult your health care provider for safe options.
- Soak brushes, combs, hair clips in ¼ cup bleach to one quart water for one hour or rinse/soak in hot water above 120 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Wash clothing, bedding and linens by machine washing and drying using the hot cycle for 30 minutes.
- Vacuum all rugs, carpets, furniture, car, car seats and strollers. Discard the vacuum bag. If using a bagless vacuum, securely bag vacuum contents immediately after vacuuming.
- Use of environmental sprays is NOT recommended due to possible toxicity and ineffectiveness.
- Use only products recommended in the “Lice Aren’t Nice” pamphlet or by your Health Care Provider.
- Following treatment, you or another adult must accompany your child back to school to be cleared to return to class by trained school staff. If there are no live lice your child can return to class. Note: High School students need not be accompanied by an adult.
Discourage close head contact in your classroom. Separate coats by hanging on the back of individual chairs. Put hats and gloves in pockets or sleeves of student’s coat.
Notify office staff so that appropriate cleaning of classroom items occurs, i.e. vacuum upholstered furniture, carpets. Bag items such as stuffed animals that cannot be washed for 2 weeks.
Protect the identity of students with head lice.
In the particular classroom, send home lice information letter to parents with the students if; at the discretion of the school, this may be done with one case. However, for an outbreak of 3 or more cases within a consecutive 2 weeks, a letter to parents/guardians is advised according to the OSPI “Infectious Disease Control Guide”.
Recognizing that lice are an infestation and may be communicable, continue to be alert to signs of potential lice infestation in other students, such as scratching the head, particularly at the nape of the neck.
- Specify full time staff member(s) to be trained regarding lice identification.
- Provide letter home to parents/guardians for classroom that the student is in at the discretion of the school. However, in the case of an “outbreak”, which is 3 or more cases in a classroom over a consecutive 2 week period, a letter is advised per the OSPI “Infectious Disease Control Guide”.
- Assist the teacher and nurse in managing student attendance until treatment and re-screening is completed.
- Students are expected back in school within one to two days of the parent notification of the lice concern and with appropriate treatment. It is understood that nits may still be present.
- Protect the confidentiality of students and their families.
- Be aware of parent’s responsibility and enlist the nurse’s help in ensuring that parents understand lice treatment and protocol and have access to supplies.
- Notify custodial staff to vacuum affected classroom and upholstered furniture.
- Provide parent lice information letter to office staff/teacher for distribution to the class if an outbreak is indicated according to the recommendation of OSPI “Infectious Disease Control Guide”.
- Provide “Lice Aren’t Nice” educational pamphlet
- Provide training to office staff on lice detection and procedures to follow.
- Coordinate with office staff regarding tracking students with confirmed cases of lice.
- School Nurse may recheck student when she returns to the school site.
- Provide and support staff education on lice procedure.
- Provide educational letter via school publication on lice procedure.