ALL ABOUT LICE
Hutto ISD’s lice policy is in line with other districts in the area. This letter will explain the reasons for this policy and help you understand why this does NOT put your child at more risk for getting head lice.
Why did the District make a change?
Hutto ISD’s lice policy reflects standard practice as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Nurses, the American School Health Association, the Harvard School of Public Health and many others. They all recommend that students with eggs and/or head lice REMAIN IN SCHOOL and not be excluded immediately. When lice is found on a child at school, that child’s parent will, of course, be informed. The health office will follow up to make sure the child is treated appropriately. If the student is not treated appropriately, then he or she will not be able to come to school.
Why would the Medical Organizations recommend this?
1) Although lice are ‘icky’, they do not cause disease are not dangerous to the child or others. It didn’t make sense that children with the common cold, which is easily passed from student to student and can make them very sick, are kept in school. But children with lice, who are not sick, and which can only rarely be passed to another child in school, and are in no way dangerous, were kept out of school.
2) No matter how careful staff is to protect the privacy of students, when a student leaves class and does not come back, most students figure out the child has lice. This can be very embarrassing for the child and the family. In fact, the school usually does not know of most cases of lice because families are too embarrassed to tell us.
3) By the time lice is discovered, the child has usually had them for 3 – 4 weeks. They have been in school this whole time, and no one else in school has gotten lice from them. It doesn’t make sense to immediately take them out of school as soon as lice are found.
4) And MOST important, school is NOT a high risk area for getting lice! Over the last 10 years multiple studies have proven the school RARELY is the place for transmission. The vast majority of cases of lice are spread by friends and family members who often play or live together. In the rare case when spread of head lice has occurred at school, it is among very young children, as in preschool or kindergarten, and likely a result of them playing very closely together.
Lice cause an emotional reaction. Old fashioned “no-nit” policies were based on that reaction, not on scientific evidence of how lice were passed. In the last 10 years MULTIPLE studies have proven keeping kids with eggs, or even lice, out of school do NOT reduce the amount of lice. “No-nit policies” are bad for the health, well-being, emotional and educational status of students.
What WILL the school do if a case of lice is reported or found?
- The health office will check any student reported to possibly have lice. If active lice or nits (eggs) are found, the parent will confidentially be notified. The teacher will be informed immediately, and the child will not use any shared headphones, helmets, hats or clothing. The health office will provide information to the parents about proper treatment.
- An infestation will be determined by looking closely through the hair and scalp for viable nits or live lice. Lice and nits (dirty to gray colored eggs attached to the hair shaft) are visible to the naked eye. Nits which are further than ¼ inch from the scalp are not considered viable because eggs are laid at the scalp and the lifecycle is short, therefore, any remaining nits beyond ¼ inch (hair growth takes time) are empty or dead.
- Parents of children with head lice will be encouraged to talk to other parents of close playmates.
- If no lice or nits are found, but the parent or the child reports he or she has recently been treated for lice, the child will checked again in one week.
- Household members of the student with lice will also be checked. Parent will be informed if their child has lice. Parents will NOT be informed of other children who have lice in school, as that is a privacy concern AND the risk of getting lice from a classmate is very small.
- Students with lice will be checked when they return to school and one week later to make sure all lice are gone.
- If the child with lice is very young, the health office may choose to check classmates in preschool and kindergarten.
- If a parent does not follow through with proper treatment, then the child with lice will be excluded from school until proper treatment has been completed.
- Lice are very common. They always exist in children and schools. No school is EVER lice-free, just like no school is free of head colds.
Staying Ahead of Head Lice:
- Watch for signs/symptoms of head lice: excessive itching or scratching head especially behind ears and nape of neck.
- Check family members for lice and nits/eggs at least once a week.It helps to use natural light and a magnifying glass.
- Treat ONLY family members who have lice.Over the counter medications (pediculocides) that kill lice and nits are recommended. Most of these chemicals require 2 treatments 7 -10 days apart.
- Use these specialized shampoos exactly as instructed to be most effective. Use product over the sink. Use a washcloth to protect eyes.
- Removing all nits (eggs) with a special fine-toothed comb is the most effective way to get rid of all of them.This may be a tedious job.
- Wash infested articles that can be laundered at 130F and dried on the hot setting.This includes hats, bedding, pillows and clothing.
- Toys, personal articles, bedding, other fabrics, and upholstered furniture that cannot be laundered with hot water and a dryer or dry-cleaned can be kept away from people (in a plastic bag) for more than 2 days if there is a concern of infestation.
- Head lice can live for 1 – 2 days away from the scalp; chemical treatment of the environment is not necessary.Vacuum floors, carpets, mattresses and furniture.
- Continue to check head daily for 2-3 weeks after discovery. Removing nits EVERY day for 3 weeks is the MOST effective treatment.
- Help prevent lice infestation by encouraging your child not to engage in activity that causes head to head contact.
More Information about Head Lice:
21 Surprising Things You Might Not Know About Head Lice.
Helpful Hints for Lice Control
Initial Identification of Infestation
Instructions for Lice Treatment
Responsibilities for Head Lice Control
Head Lice Fact Sheets: