Updated on April 14, 2017
Georgia Department of Health
The Department of Health recommends that schools allow students with nits to stay in school as long as there are no live lice present in the hair. Students with an active infestation of live bugs should be allowed to remain in school until the end of the day and then should be sent home with an education packet on how to eradicate lice. The department dissuades the implementation of school-wide screenings, spraying of environmental pesticides, bagging of clothes, restricted use of headphones and helmets, and reporting cases to social service agencies. According to their website, "Currently, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating that enforced exclusion policies are effective for reducing head lice transmission. Although the lice policy is ultimately up to the school administration, school officials are urged to consider these recommendations. A student should not miss more than one or two days from school because of head lice. Documents to support these recommendations can be found at the end of this manual. POLICY for SCHOOLS When a member of school staff suspects a child is infested with head lice, the following procedures should be followed:
- The child should be restricted from activities involving close contact (i.e., hugging) or sharing personal items (i.e., hats, clothing, and brushes) with other children.
- The school/facility must be notified, and the parents must be contacted (verbal communication is preferred). Immediate removal of the child is unnecessary. If the child has lice, they probably have been infested for weeks and prompt removal of the child could lead to embarrassment and ridicule. The child can be sent home at the end of the day. Children should be allowed to ride the school bus home. Transmission via school bus seats is not likely because of the biology of head lice.
- A letter should be sent home notifying classmates’ parents that a case of head lice is suspected and asking them to check all of their children for head lice. The school should also provide parents with a copy of an information sheet on head lice infestation and treatment options.
SCHOOL ASSISTANCE – No Nit Policies What are the advantages of a "No-Nit" policy? Under a no-nit policy, children may not return to school until the school confirms complete removal of all lice and nits. In this way, infested children will not transmit head lice to others. The Georgia Department of Public Health does not recommend a no-nit policy. However, this decision may need to be made on a case-by-case basis to deal with local situations. What are the disadvantages of a "No-Nit" policy? Children are often excluded from school even when they are not at risk to transmit head lice. In a Harvard University study, dandruff, fibers, dirt, scabs, skin cells, knotted hair or other insects are misdiagnosed as head lice 40% of the time! Another study found that most children with nits alone did not become infested with adult lice. These reports indicate that many children are unnecessarily excluded from school under a strict no-nit policy. What are the components of an effective head lice policy?
- Designate a person (such as a school nurse or principal) to check students when an outbreak occurs. This person must also check infested children daily for 10 days after treatment (manual removal, shampoo, etc.) and re-admission to school. A repeat treatment of the child may be necessary in 7-10 days.
- The designated monitor must be trained to identify head lice and nits. Do not exclude children from school based on the diagnosis of an untrained or inexperienced person. Talk to your local health department about training opportunities.
- Educate parents and students about head lice and how to avoid infestation. Emphasize prevention. Distribute the Parent's Guide to the 'Nitty-Gritty' about Head Lice or similar educational material to concerned parents.
- Be sensitive when dealing with children (and parents of children) that have head lice. Although not dangerous, head lice can be traumatic.
Base your policy on the presence of live, adult head lice and viable nits. Policies based only on nits will be inconsistent and may unnecessarily exclude children from school.
- In schools where head lice are a constant problem it may be useful to form a head lice task force consisting of parents, administrators, and a health department nurse, to come up with a plan to reduce re-infestations."
More information: dph.georgia.gov
Savannah-Chatham County Schools
In 2004, the district dropped its "no nit" policy owing to the fact that children were stigmatized and missing too much school for something that is not a health hazard.Children with live lice are not permitted to return to school until all live lice have been eradicated. The policy change was based on recommendations by several major health agencies including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC which recommended in 2002 that no child should be excluded from school solely based on the presence of head lice. "Please check your child’s head for nits (eggs) tonight (instructions below).Head lice are tiny insects that live on people’s scalp and hair. They hatch from small eggs (nits) that are firmly attached to the individual hairs near the scalp and cannot be easily moved up or down the hair. Lice do not jump from one person to another and do not live on animals. When checking your child, look for:
- Very itchy scalp;
- White, black, or clear “egg”-looking particles (nits) on strands of hair, located near the scalp. Also search for nits at the back of the neck, behind the ears, and at the top of the head; and
- Live lice, which are small and black in color.
If you suspect that your child has lice, please take the following precautions:
- Ask your health care provider to diagnose the problem and recommend treatment.
- Inform the school nurse if your child is diagnosed as having head lice.
- If live head lice is diagnosed, your child may not return to school until she/he has been treated and is lice free."
In most cases, a healthy child with head lice will no longer be excluded from Savannah- Chatham County public schools. More information: internet.savannah.chatham.k12.ga.us
Pooler School District
This district maintains a strict "no nit" policy. "Children with head lice will be excluded from school until the hair has been treated and ALL of the eggs (nits) have been removed." More information: georgia.webschoolpro.com
This district expects children to be nit-free before returning to,school.m "A child who has had head lice shouldn't return to school until the child has had lice treatment, and there are no nits (lice eggs) on the scalp or in the hair, Chow-Johnson advised. Nits can be removed with a very fine-toothed comb." More information: www.farmersnaturalfoods.com
The Ludowici district maintains a strict "no nit" policy. "DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL IF HE/SHE: Has tiny eggs and/or insects in his/her hair Students with contagious infections need to stay home so they will not expose others. If your child is home with a communicable illness, please contact the school nurse so the parent(s) of other classmates may be alerted of symptoms. · If you find head lice in your child’s hair, please notify the school nurse. The school nurse can advise you how to treat appropriately, how to manually remove nits, and treat your household before returning to school. Upon return to school, bring your child to the clinic first so the school nurse can help you be sure your child is free of nits before returning to class." More information: smileyelementary.com/index164.htm
Bryan County Schools
Like the aforementioned district, Bryan County schools have a "no nit" policy. "Schools will contact parents when their child is suspected of having head lice. Before your child can be admitted to school, he or she must be checked by the local school nurse. Unless proof of treatment is presented and all nits are gone, your child will not be readmitted to school nor will he/she be allowed to ride the school bus until these procedures are followed. Please accompany your child for him/her to be rechecked by the school nurse." More information: images.pcmac.org/SiSFiles/Schools/GA/BryanCounty Despite recommendations by the Georgia Department of Health that schools maintain lenient policies regarding admission to school with head lice, most schools in the Savannah area have stricter guidelines. It is up to each district to develop its own policy so you will not find uniformity among districts. If you find that your child has a lice infestation, LiceDoctors can help you. Call us at 912-421-2119 for same day service. We guarantee that we will eradicate the lice.