Managing Head Lice In Schools: School and Parent — s Responsibilities, Head Lice Center

Managing Head Lice In Schools: School and Parent’s Responsibilities

Head lice infestation is not a dangerous condition but it causes high anxiety among parents, children and in schools. School aged children are at greatest risk to contract head lice. Managing head lice in schools is very important because it is in the school setting that head lice is most likely to be transferred.

To effectively manage head lice in schools, it is important that the school and parents work together as a team where each take responsibility for certain tasks.

The School’s Responsibilities In Managing Head Lice

Head lice are not an environmental problem but a personal health problem. This is because head lice need a human host to live on and therefore individual children get the infestation and not the school classroom. Head lice school policies differ widely from school to school and state to state. In general, it is the school’s responsibility to have the following head lice management strategies in place to prevent infested children from transferring head lice to other children.

  • Each school should have a head lice school policy in place that describes procedures that will be followed to identify head lice, notify parents, minimize transfer of head lice and how and when to do follow-up after treatment.
  • To train teachers and other school personnel in identifying and managing head lice.
  • To maintain confidentiality when head lice is identified and to notify parents in a sensitive manner.
  • To provide practical advice for parents of infested families and maintain a sympathetic attitude.
  • To make the head lice school policy known to all parents.
  • To make an informed decision whether children with live lice and nits should be allowed to attend school. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child should be forced to stay home because of live lice or nits, but in reality many school policies require that children with at least a few live lice are not send to school.
  • If a school adopts a no-lice or no-nit policy, clear guidelines should be available as to when the child will be allowed to attend school again; for example, after one treatment or when the school nurse is satisfied that there are no nits or lice left.
  • Extra help should be given to children with chronic or prolonged infestation, to minimize the number of days they are absent from school.

The Parent’s Responsibility In Managing Head Lice

It is ultimately the parents’ own responsibility to take control of head lice in their children. To make it easier to manage head lice in schools, parents may carry out the following procedures:

  • Check their children’s hair for head lice on a weekly basis.
  • Treat an infested child as soon as possible after lice have been identified.
  • Inspect household members regularly.
  • Notify the school and the parents of close friends if they have identified head lice in their children, to make sure that if the lice were transmitted, treatment can start as soon as possible.
  • Notify the school of the treatment procedures you have followed so that your child can attend school if the school has a no-lice or no-nit policy in place.
  • Make sure that children with long hair attend school with hair tied back.
  • Be willing to attend head lice information sessions or meetings organized by the school.

Tips For Preventing The Spread of Head Lice In Schools

Head lice are transmitted through close person-to-person contact. Head lice cannot fly, but only crawl and can also be transmitted through sharing personal belongings like brushes, combs, helmets and hats. The following measures can be put in place to avoid getting head lice in the classroom:

  • Desks should be spaced apart so children are not sitting shoulder to shoulder.
  • Children with long hair should be encouraged to tie it back.
  • Have separate pegs for coats and hats. Children shouldn’t hang coats and hats on top of those of other children or pile them on top of each other.
  • Ensure ample space between children in lines or when working together as groups.
  • Minimize shared use of headgear such as earphones, helmets and clothing (such as concert costumes). Hand-vacuum these items between users.
  • Make sure that the health curriculum of all pupils contains information about head lice and how it is identified, transferred and treated.

Managing head lice in schools is the responsibility of both the school and the parents. If both parties cooperate the spread of head lice in schools can be minimized.

What’s your school policy on head lice info?

Dithered whether to put this here or in Children’s Health, but i’m really interested in your school’s policy/approach to head lice rather than getting rid of lice.

Just 4 days into term we have had a text from school announcing «head lice in year 2, please check your child’s hair»

We were getting these texts most weeks last year and i can’t believe this has happened again so quickly.

We have 3 classes in year 2 — but the text goes to the whole year group. Surely 4 days into term a teacher has seen a child/children scratching furiously and this has triggered the text.

If it is the same children over and over, will the school ever do anything? These blanket texts do not seem to be working!

Does anyone have a nit nurse anymore? Can we club together and pay for one? (or is this not allowed. )

Nothing much the school can do other than ask parents to check children’s heads and treat if they find anything. What we find is parents treat the hair which kills the living lice but fail to get rid of eggs so a few days later back to square one.

No nit nurses as it is considered assault to check a child’s hair.

can the teacher do anything specifically like call the parent in if they notice their child scratching, or is that deemed too intrusive?

it just seems crazy, i sent a note to all the parents forwarding advice i received when dd was at nursery re combing for 7 days after no further eggs were found, minimum 2 weeks from time of infestation. That was well received in the class and many mums said they hadn’t realised about the combing for that long after the attack. I wonder if we could distribute that advice throughout the school — any restriction on it?

(i know from my HR days that if a work colleague has bad BO for example that you aren’t allowed to suggest ways to get rid of it, or hints like «do you know there is a shower upstairs etc. «. You have to just state the fact.

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I’ve phoned parents, spoken to them face to face, asked the school nurse to visit the home, sent home instructions, held meetings with the school nurse to advice how to deal with head lice, collected the huge lice that were falling off their child’s head and stuck them to a piece of paper as evidence for the pharmacist (free product on production) and .
no change the child goes on to infect the class time after time year in and year

My school has called me at home and asked me to take my dc home in the middle of the school day because they have headlice. This is a state primary, btw.

Lice at daycare (prevent, checking, treatment, policy & protocols)

Head lice policy & protocol in daycare

What the schools should/will do

First and foremost – communication is key. Your childcare centre or school should have a head lice policy and protocol in place so staff know what to do during an outbreak.

The policy will outline what the centre should/will do and how the implemented protocols are communicated to staff and parents.

A head lice policy and protocol typically includes the following information:

  • A clear understanding of the aesthetics of lice and lice eggs (known as nits) including colour, shape and size.
  • How to identify head lice and nits through a physical examination of the head, neck and hair.
  • How the outbreak will be communicated within the facility to staff and to parents, including any written material required.
  • Privacy information, and how to be discreet to avoid embarrassment or potential self esteem issues among children and families.
  • An outline of the steps facility will take if a parent detects lice in their child’s hair and reports it to the school.
  • A clear, concise outline regarding dismissal protocols during an outbreak.
  • Details of any regular screening processes or other protocols designed to prevent an outbreak of lice, and how this information is communicated to parents and carers.

Lice breakout in classroom. What to do?

What you as a parent should/will do

It’s important for parents to understand that a head lice outbreak in the classroom can strike at any time. Along with children, head lice can potentially affect teenagers, teachers, parents and anyone associated with an infected person at any time and at any age.

If your childcare centre or classroom informs you there has been an outbreak, you can take steps to help prevent your child from contacting lice. These are detailed below.

  • Stay calm! There is no need to cause unnecessary worry or panic with your child or family. Lice are not harmful, but rather are irritating and uncomfortable.
  • Check your child’s hair and scalp for signs of lice or eggs.
  • Understand that if your child does have lice as a result of the outbreak, it is no fault of theirs, or yours, or the fault of the care facility or school.
  • Ask about the centre’s head lice policy and protocol, especially regarding a dismissal policy, as you may need to take your child home and keep them home for a time if they have lice.
  • Take the required steps to prevent your child getting lice if they are not affected by the outbreak.
  • Talk to your child about the outbreak, and if they are old enough to understand, explain why you will have to check their hair closely every day.

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with lice. Be honest with your children to help them understand the situation, and with your school or childcare facility. You could help avoid further outbreaks from the outset.

Staying healthy in childcare with a head lice outbreak

What to do to protect yourself, rather than your child

If you discover that your childcare centre is in the midst of a head lice outbreak, there are steps you should take to protect yourself and stay healthy. These are detailed below.

  • Get a family member or friend to check your hair immediately for signs of lice or eggs: even if you don’t have an itchy scalp, you may have lice yourself!
  • Educate yourself about what to look for in your hair and in your children’s hair during an outbreak of lice.
  • Treat infected family members, including yourself, immediately if you find lice.
  • Understand that an outbreak of lice is NOT related to cleanliness in the home and that lice only survive in hair, so don’t bother to spend hours cleaning the house or getting anxious about lice overtaking your home.
  • Wash and clean any bedding or clothing that has been at childcare, especially hats and headwear.
  • Contact other facilities and people your child has been in contact with to inform them of the outbreak. These may include schools, playgroups, mothers groups and family and friends.

How to prevent lice?

As a parent, would you know how to prevent lice? Prevention is a key part in protecting your child from lice and breaking the cycle of lice.

Although prevention does not guarantee complete protection, the steps you take will minimise the life cycle of nits and keep them away from your family for longer.

Prevention involves regular checking and screening, so you will need to know what the lice and eggs look like.

Head lice eggs are tiny, oval shaped and around the same size as a pinhead. You will typically find them closest to the scalp, rather than the end of the hair. They cannot be easily flicked off the hair.

Lice are equally tiny, wingless, dark in colour and around the size of a sesame seed.

Once you know what to look for, you can use the following methods to prevent an outbreak of lice.

  • Check your child’s hair, along with other family members, regularly for signs of lice or nits by using a fine comb.
  • Consider incorporating this regular checking into your daily routine, such as after bath time.
  • Take note if they are suddenly scratching around their head and neck, or complain they have an itchy head (but note this is not always a symptom of lice.)
  • If you do notice lice, treat immediately to stop the cycle in its tracks.
  • Tie long hair back.
  • Avoid using other children’s brushes, combs, hats or other headwear.
  • Give permission for your child to take part in regular screening procedures at their daycare or school.
  • Talk to your children about avoiding head contact with others, and why this is important in preventing lice (if they are old enough to understand.)
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Lice checking/screening – how to inspect for lice

The best way to check and screen for lice is to inspect the hair thoroughly. You can do this using hair conditioner (preferably white) plus a fine comb and white paper towel. We have outlined a detailed process below.

  1. To start, brush your child’s hair thoroughly and detangle before you begin. When the hair dries, apply the hair conditioner to the scalp.
  2. Run the comb through small sections of hair. This will result in remnants of conditioner left on the comb.
  3. Wipe the conditioner on the white paper towel after each stroke.
  4. Check the tissue for signs of lice or nits.
  5. Repeat this process several times, or until you see evidence of lice or nits.
  6. If you find lice or nits, start an appropriate treatment immediately.

If your child is prone to fidgeting, offer them a book to read, movie to watch or game to play while you complete the screening.

Head Lice Eggs

Lice are sometimes colloquially known as nits, with people referring to lice and nits as the same thing. Nits, however, are the head lice eggs, rather than the insect which lays the egg. Female head lice lay eggs on the scalp, and these hatch after 5-7 days.

Once hatched, the lice take around 7-8 days to grow full sized. Once grown, it takes another 7 days to start breeding. This short breeding cycle makes immediate treatment vital in controlling and stopping the life cycle of lice and head lice eggs.

Head lice treatment for kids in Australia

There are two types of effective head lice treatment for kids in Australia: the ‘conditioner and comb’ method, which is similar to the checking and screening process as above, and chemical treatments.

The conditioner and comb method is considered the most effective treatment. Chemical treatments can cause skin irritation and may lead to insecticide resistance, which occurs when the bugs become immune to the chemicals.

The conditioner and comb method works by removing the lice and eggs for a period of 7-10 days, ending the life cycle of the head lice.

To use the conditioner and comb method, you will need hair conditioner (preferably white so you can see the lice easily enough) plus a special head lice comb and white paper towel. The method is outlined below:

  1. To start, brush your child’s hair thoroughly and detangle before you begin. When the hair dries, apply the hair conditioner all over the scalp.
  2. Separate the hair into sections and run the head lice comb throughout the hair, which will remove the lice and eggs.
  3. Wipe the conditioner from comb on the white paper towel and you will be able to see the lice and eggs.
  4. Continue this step until there are no more lice or eggs on the white paper.
  5. You should repeat this process every day for 7-10 days, or when no more lice or eggs appear on the tissue.

In Summary

We hope this information gives you an insight into head lice, eggs, prevention and treatment.

You child may go their entire school life without catching lice, or they may be infected several times and there is no way to predict a lice outbreak.

While it’s not always possible to protect your child from getting head lice, there are plenty of things you can do to minimise your chances of them coming home with these unwanted parasites.

So don’t panic, learn what to look for, communicate with your childcare facility and seek immediate treatment. Remember that while irritating for you and your child, lice are ultimately harmless and simply need time and patience to get rid of.

For Many, Lice Are a Part of Teaching. How to Deal

What to do when the creepy-crawlies strike.

Lice—the mere mention of the word makes most teachers’ skin crawl! Unfortunately, lice happen (and contrary to popular myth, it has nothing to do with personal hygiene). So what to do, in this season of giving, if you’re stuck with the creepy-crawlies in your room? Once again, we reached out to the experts in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Keep your hair out of reach or covered.

Mindy J. and Kelly M. recommend keeping your “hair in a tight bun and us[ing] LOTS and LOTS of hairspray.” If you have short hair, you may want to suspend the no hats in school rule and keep your lids (stylishly) covered.

2. Use natural remedies.

Apparently lice LOVE clean hair. One solution is to grease your hair. Lots of teachers recommended using tea tree oil or coconut oil. Teacher Tiara F. suggests adding a few drops of peppermint oil or rosemary oil to your hairbrush in the morning.

3. Try these brands.

Laina L. suggests Suave Rosemary & Mint Invigorating Shampoo & Conditioner. Chantel S. tried Melaleuca. Stephanie B. had good luck with Herbal Essences: “It made my hair too slick for lice to stick to.” A few teachers also recommended Fairy Tales shampoo sold on Amazon.

4. Ditch the softies.

We love for our kids to have a soft cozy place to snuggle up, especially at reading time, but unfortunately these are the perfect breeding ground for lice to lay their eggs. “Get rid of soft seating, pillows, rugs, stuffed animals, blankets, etc.,” recommends teacher Ann B.

5. Use plastic bags.

“Whenever we have an outbreak of lice in the classroom, I have kids put all coats and book bags into tall garbage bags with tie handles the minute they walk in,” advises Melinda P. Kristen P. echoes, “ Keep all belongings in plastic bags and hang them from hooks so kids’ things don’t touch.”

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6. Expose lice to extreme temperatures.

“Lice cannot tolerate cold, so put anything in your room that fits into garbage bags and put them outside (if it’s cold enough in your area) and leave them there for 48 hours.” advises Cathey S. On the other end of the thermometer, Kathryn S. suggests, “Put your coat in the dryer on high for 20 minutes after you get home. That way you won’t bring any lice into the house.” Debbie C. adds, “ Lice do not like the heat from a hair dryer, so blow dry your hair every day.”

7. Discourage sharing, for the time being.

We work so hard to build a close community in our classrooms, but in some cases, it’s best to maintain a little distance. Laurie A. says, “Avoid sharing head phones. My kids use personal headphones or earbuds, and it has cut down on any outbreaks in our room. It’s been a few years since I’ve had anyone with it (knock on wood).” If you have a supply of dress-up clothes, put them away until the outbreak is over. And even though we love how affectionate our kids can be, Morgan L. suggests inventing “a cool handshake so no one tries to hug.”

8. Enlist help.

Teacher Sarah H. asked the custodians in her building to change out their vacuum bags daily. If your cleaning staff does not vacuum daily, you may have to bring one from home and do it yourself for a short while.

What other lice remedies would you add to the list? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Should kids with head lice be allowed at school?

November 8, 2013 / 12:03 PM / CBS/AP

WASHINGTON Some parents are scratching their heads over laxer head lice policies that allow children with live bugs in their hair to return to the classroom.

And some school nurses are no longer sending home the dreaded «lice note» to other parents with kids in the classroom, alerting them to the possibility of lice in their own child’s precious locks. The policy shift is designed to help keep children from missing class, shield children with lice from embarrassment and protect their privacy.

«Lice is icky, but it’s not dangerous,» says Deborah Pontius, the school nurse for the Pershing County School District in Lovelock, Nev. «It’s not infectious, and it’s fairly easy to treat.»

Head lice infestation, or pediculosis, occurs through close person-to-person contact with someone who already has the parasitic insect living close to their scalps. Most often they are spread through direct head-to-head contact but infrequently, they may be spread by contact with clothing — including hats, scarves and coats — or other personal items like combs, brushes, or towels.

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They are not a sign of poor hygiene, according to the CDC.

An estimated 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the U.S. among children 3 to 11 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Pontius, usually by the time an itchy child is sent to the nurse, he or she has probably had lice for about three weeks to two months. She says classmates already would have been exposed. There’s little additional risk of transmission, she says, if the student returns to class for a few hours until the end of the day, when a parent would pick up the child and treat for lice at home.

Pontius also doesn’t send lice notes. «It gets out who had lice,» she says, and there’s no need to panic parents. Parents with elementary school-aged kids should check their children’s hair for lice once a week anyway, she says. If they are doing that, then there’s really no need for the notes.

However, the idea of letting kids with untreated lice remain in class doesn’t set well with some parents.

«I’m appalled. I am just so disgusted,» says Theresa Rice, whose 8-year-old daughter, Jenna, has come home from her elementary school in Hamilton County, Tenn., with lice three times since school started in August.

«It’s just a terrible headache to have to deal with lice,» says Rice. To pick out the tiny eggs, or nits, and lice from Jenna’s long blond hair is a four-hour process. Add to that all the laundry and cleaning — it’s exhausting, she says. Rice had to bag up her daughter’s treasured stuffed animals, which remained sealed for weeks even after Jenna was lice-free.

Jenna’s school implemented a new policy in the past year that allows children with untreated lice to go home at the end of the day, be treated and then return to school. The policy, the district said, complies with the guidelines of both the Tennessee Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other schools, in California, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina and elsewhere, have similar policies.

The National Pediculosis Association in Massachusetts is opposed to relaxing bans on lice and blames the updated policies for spreading the bugs.

«The new lice policy throws parental values for wellness and children’s health under the bus,» says Deborah Altschuler, head of the Newton-based group. «It fosters complacency about head lice by minimizing its importance as a communicable parasitic disease.»

The association says lice treatment shampoos are pesticides that are not safe for children and not 100 percent effective.

Take for example «super lice,» which doctors in Pittsburgh recently reported have been increasing at local schools. These lice resist treatments to over-the-counter medicated shampoos, and require a stronger prescription medication that may have stronger odors or can be flammable.

The group instead urges parents to screen regularly and use a special comb to manually remove lice and nits from a child’s hair.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines in 2010 to adopt a «do not exclude» infested students recommendation for schools dealing with head lice.

The National Association of School Nurses revised its position the following year. In its guidance, the association said children found with live head lice should remain in class but be discouraged from close direct head contact with others. The school nurse should contact the parent to discuss treatment.

The association doesn’t have figures on how many schools have adopted less restrictive policies. It varies by state and often by school district.

The ways in which schools manage head lice have been changing over the last couple of decades.

It used to be that schools wouldn’t allow children to return to the classroom until all the lice and the nits were removed. The academy has long encouraged schools to discontinue «no-nit» policies. The itty-bitty nits — which can often be confused with dandruff — cement themselves to the hair shaft, making removal difficult.

The CDC says the nits are «very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people» — and many schools have dropped their no-nit policies. But supporters of no-nit rules, such as the National Pediculosis Association, say the eggs will hatch new lice and need to be removed from a child’s hair to be considered lice free.

First published on November 8, 2013 / 12:03 PM

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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