Head Lice Protocol

  • Head lice icon Winchester Public Schools is committed to providing a healthy environment for all students and employees. WPS protocol for lice management in our schools is guided by current recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Harvard School of Public Health, and the National Association for School Nurses (NASN).

    It is the position of these organizations that the management of Pediculosis (infestation by head lice) should not disrupt the educational process and no disease is associated with head lice. Using these recommendations WPS has established the following guidelines:

    • When a student is identified with live lice at school, the family will be notified.
    • The student will be sent home at the end of the day. Families may choose to pick up their child earlier if desired.
    • A student with live lice should receive an appropriate lice treatment prior to returning to school. Students will not be excluded from school attendance. However families will be notified if live lice are still present upon their return to school requiring further treatment.
    • The student will be examined upon returning to school for treatment and absence of live lice.
    • Educational materials will be shared with the family for proper treatment of the student, other family members, and the home.
    • The standard lice information letter may be sent to families of students in any grade level in which lice has been discovered.

    Current evidence does not support the efficacy and cost effectiveness of classroom or school-wide screening for decreasing the incidence of head lice among school children. Families provide the most effective screening by checking their children regularly at home, using appropriate treatments and removing nits.

Facts About Head Lice

  • Head lice are not dangerous and do not transmit disease. They cause no medical harm and can be effectively treated. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.

    Life cycle of head lice: eggs or nits are cemented to the base of the hair shaft, eggs hatch into nymphs, in 7 days adult lice have matured. Lice can live 30 days on an infected head. Lice will die in 1 – 2 days off the host.

    Head lice are spread by direct contact only. They cannot jump or fly.

    All people are susceptible to head lice although some groups are more vulnerable than others.

    Most students with head lice are symptom free although some may experience itching.

    Nits visible farther than 6 mm (1/4 in) from the scalp are generally not viable and an indication of past infestation.

    Current infestation is confirmed by inspection of scalp and hair for the presence of nits, nymphs or adult lice. Lice are often difficult to spot because there are few and they move quickly.

Important Information