Head Lice: Information, Policies, and Resources

The school has been dealing with isolated incidences of head lice since the early fall months. Now, however, several classes are experiencing occurrences of head lice among the children.

What are head lice?
Head lice are small insects that live on the human head and feed on blood. They are very small (about the size of a sesame seed) and can be either gray/white or brown. Lice often lay eggs in the hair. These eggs are called nits and are yellowish in color. Both the lice and nits are most easily detectable in the hair around the neckline and behind the ears. Lice can sometimes cause the head to itch. Lice cannot fly or jump. They are only spread through head-to-head contact or by sharing a hat, comb, towel, or other item which has come in contact with the hair of someone who has lice.

What is the school doing to help put a stop to the incidence of head lice? We are:

1. Educating faculty, staff, children, and parents on ways to identify, prevent, and treat lice.
2. Communicating with parents and teachers as soon as a case of head lice is discovered so that swift action can be taken at home to check for and treat lice.
3. Checking for lice in classrooms where an occurrence has been detected. Children who are found to have lice or nits are sent home immediately.
4. Cleaning thoroughly the classrooms that have experienced a lice outbreak.
5. Asking that parents in classrooms where lice has been detected take home their child’s extra clothing, blankets, stuffed animals etc. to be washed in hot water.
6. Asking teachers to be vigilant in preventing the children from engaging in activities that may lead to the spread of lice, such as sharing hats, scarves, or combs.
7. Consulting with local health authorities, including professionals from among our own parent body, for guidance as to how to manage effectively the head lice occurrences.

Parental support
Without question, the key to managing successfully the head lice situation in school is to have complete parental support. We are grateful to have found much support from our parent body, of course, and want to provide again some references for use by parents toward eliminating head lice first from home.

Here are some web sites as references for dealing with head lice:
http://www.headlice.org/
http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/lice.html
http://www.cdc.gov/lice/head/factsheet.html
http://oregon.gov/DHS/ph/acd/diseases/lice/lice.shtml

We continue to send notices home to the parents whose children are in classes where head lice have been discovered and asking the parents to view any of these web sites for video information as to how to manage the issue of head lice. In addition to these videos, of course, many more are available:

Parents TV – this video features an MD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59VGwzmYBWw&feature=related
Australia - provides an interesting international perspective
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmhOMrP_XqE
Mayo Clinic – a short and useful video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQBfjWp_OW4&feature=related

What if my child has head lice?
1. Contact the school so that we can take precautions to stop the lice from spreading, including checking the other students in the class, posting a health notice, taking extra care in cleaning the classroom, and asking parents to take home extra clothes, blankets, and stuffed animals to be washed.
2. Keep your child at home until he/she is lice and nit free. The school’s policy is that children may not come back to school until all lice and nits have been removed from the hair.
3. Use a medicated head lice shampoo (available at pharmacies) and a metal lice comb to remove lice and nits. Medicated shampoos, while helping to kill live lice, will not remove all lice and nits from the hair. Most resources say that the best way to get rid of lice and nits is to use a nit-comb and go through the hair section by section until all lice and nits have been removed.
4. Wash bedding, clothes, stuffed animals, and towels that may have come in contact with head lice. Have other members of the family checked for lice.
5. Vacuuming is an effective way to remove lice or fallen hairs with attached nits from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals that cannot be washed or car seats – wherever someone with head lice may have rested their head.
6. Continue to check your child daily for lice, even after receiving treatment, for up to two weeks. This will help to quickly detect a reoccurrence.