Head lice are a nuisance – not a health hazard!
The head louse, scientifically referred to as Pediculous humanus capitis, is a tiny insect thatLIce seems to evoke a super-sized response. Because of the myths and the stigmas attached to the presence of head lice, it is important for the Health aide and school staff to demonstrate understanding, sensitivity and confidentiality regarding head lice.


Scientifically based facts of Head Lice and Lice Nits:

  • Head lice are not readily transmissible in the school environment.
  • Head lice are most commonly transmitted in the family environment –simply by living together.
  • Head lice are common in all socioeconomic groups.
  • Head lice do not fly or jump from head – to head. Sustained close head contact would be required for head lice to crawl from one head to another.
  • Lice nits are firmly attached “glued” to the hair shaft and therefore do not easily fall onto others or personal belongings.
  • Treatment using a pediculicide type shampoo and/or manually picking nits off is usually effective.
  • Some cases may require a repeat treatment 7-10 days later.
  • Preventive shampoo treatment is not recommended.
  • Parents should periodically inspect their children’s hair and contact their health provider with questions regarding lice and lice treatments.
  • Environmental insecticide sprays should not be used.
  • Pets do not require head lice treatment.

In addressing the occurrence of head lice in the school setting, the district follows guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the local public health department. These guidelines discourage “No-Nit” policies in schools – this means that a student who is identified with nits only remains in school even though nits may still be seen on the student’s hair. This minimizes disruption to the student’s academic schedule. Parents will be notified individually by the school if their student is observed with lice nits or live lice at school.

Biology Head Lice

  • Head lice are crawling insects. They cannot hop, jump, or fly.
  • Head lice require a human scalp for food, warmth, and shelter – essentially survival.
  • They dwell close to the skin (scalp) feeding on the host’s blood.
  • Adult female lice lay oval-shaped eggs (nits) close to the scalp that are firmly attached to the hair shaft.
  • Nits (the eggs of the head louse) are small yellowish- white, oval-shaped eggs that are " glued to the side of a hair shaft " at an angle
  • Nits must be laid by live lice. You cannot "catch nits."
  • Once laid, it takes 7-10 days for a nit to hatch, and another 7-10 days for the female to mature and begin laying her own eggs.
  • Head lice are clear in color when hatched, and then quickly develop a reddish-brown color after feeding.
  • Head lice are about the size of sesame seeds.
  • Head lice are wingless insects six legs.
  • Head lice are small, wingless insects which feed on human blood. They need human blood in order to survive.
  • Head lice off of their human hosts will starve. The NPA suggests that, in most cases, a head louse will not survive for more than 24 hours off of its human host.
  • Head lice do not thrive on pets.

Lice Screenings Guidelines

Student who has been checked and who does not have lice nits:

  • Student returns to class
  • Parent is contacted that student was checked in the school Health room and was not observed with lice nits. Always send a Parent Letter English Spanish for any child who is checked.

Student who has been checked and is observed with lice nits:

  • Student returns to class.
  • Parent is contacted that student was checked in the school Health room and is observed with lice nits.
  • Parent of a child that has visible lice or nits receives copy of both the Parent Checklist
  • Notify the school principal when lice nits are observed.
  • Student is re-checked in the school Health room in 10 days.

Student is checked and observed with live head lice:

  • Parent is contacted that student has been checked in the school Health room and is observed with live head lice.
  • Student remains in school Health room while parent makes arrangements to pick up student from school. (It might be the end of the day and student simply goes home.)
  • Parent receives copy of the Parent Letter/Head Lice Checklist above which includes helpful treatment information.
  • Student may go home and receive treatment and then return to school on the same day.
  • Student is re-checked upon return to school and again in 10 days.
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