Updated on February 15, 2020
In general, schools in Texas are discouraged from setting no-nit policies which prevent children with nits (lice eggs) from attending school.
“There is no law in Texas that addresses excluding children with head lice from school. DSHS does not have authority to impose a set policy on the exclusion or inclusion of students with head lice in school districts. However, DSHS does urge school districts to ensure that its policies and procedures do not cause children to miss class unnecessarily. In addition, school districts’ policies and procedures should not encourage the embarrassment and isolation of students who suffer from repeated cases of head lice.
Lice are not a public health threat. They do not carry disease. Therefore, the Department of State Health Services does not monitor or track cases of head lice. It is up to each school district to create head lice policies and procedures, if they so choose…and some do. Talk to the school nurse or someone else in charge to find out what the school policy and procedures are in your school district. Refer to the topic "Setting Policies for School Districts" that appears on this page for policy suggestions.
According to a research article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2015, "No healthy child should be excluded from or allowed to miss school time because of head lice or nits. Pediatricians may educate school communities that no-nit policies for return to school should be abandoned." Information for schools is located at the end of the research article.
Notice to Parents
During the 2017 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1566 passed into law and states the following: "The board of trustees of an independent school district shall adopt a policy requiring a school nurse of a public elementary school who determines or otherwise becomes aware that a child enrolled in the school has lice shall provide written or electronic notice of that fact to:
(1) the parent of the child with lice as soon as practicable but not later than 48 hours after the administrator or nurse, as applicable, determines or becomes aware of that fact; and
(2) the parent of each child assigned to the same classroom as the child with lice not later than the fifth school day after the date on which the administrator or nurse, as applicable, determines or becomes aware of that fact.”
Additional information about confidentiality is included within the law.
A “no-nit” policy is one that excludes students from school based on the presence of lice eggs, whether or not live lice are present. The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) does not recommend a “no-nit” policy. We do recognize, however, that school districts may adopt one as a local option.
Head lice infestation is a social issue not a health threat. “No-nit” policies place a disproportionate amount of emphasis on head lice management than on real health concerns, which should be a higher priority. This over-emphasis can lead to unproductive use of time by school staff and parents, missed classes, unnecessary absences, and parents missing work.
McAllen School District
Schools in McAllen adhere to the recommendations stipulated above as follows:
“Identification by the school RN or School Health Assistant involves inspection of the student’s head, examining for live head lice and/or nits.
Examination is initiated when:
Nurse/teacher observes either live lice/nits on a student’s head, constant scratching or infection of the scalp
The student complains of scalp irritation and/or itching
A parent reports suspicion or confirmation of head lice
Siblings of a confirmed case have been identified
School nurse deems a classroom screening advisable
- All students identified with live lice will have parents/guardians contacted and be sent home. If parents/guardians are unable to come for student, student is to remain in the nurse’s office until parents can pick up.
- Parents/Guardians will be advised to treat their child for head lice. It’s recommended the name of the treatment product be written by the parent/guardian on the treatment letter.
- Upon returning to school, the student should be cleared by the school nurse prior to reporting to class.
- If there is still evidence of live lice, the child will not be allowed to remain in school.
- A medical referral will be provided to the parent for student evaluation.
- Documentation will be kept on the student’s health record regarding all assessments, referrals, recommendations, home visits to conference with the parent, and notifications to administrators.
- If nits are noted, student will remain in school and parent will be contacted. A lice/nit notice will be sent home. Parent will be encouraged to remove nits.
- A medical referral will be provided to the parent for student evaluation.
Absence from school for head lice treatment is not necessary and therefore will be counted as an unexcused absence.”
(Source McAllen ISD)
As with the McAllen school district, schools in Edinburg do not have a “no-nit policy”
“Head lice is common among children and is spread very easily through head-to-head contact during play, sports or nap time and when children share things like brushes, combs, hats and headphones. The school nurse can also offer additional recommendations on how best to get rid of lice and prevent their return.
Head lice can be a nuisance but they have not been shown to spread disease. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.
Students diagnosed with live head lice do no not need to be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day…Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.
More information on head lice can be obtained from the TDSHS Web site at (ECISD document)
Brownsville School District
While students in Brownsville are also allowed to remain in school with nits, the district announced in September 2017 a new law that requires the schools to advise parents of any lice cases in their child’s class.
“Texas lawmakers made sure that a piece of a new law, Senate Bill 1566, requires school officials as of Sept. 1 to send notices to parents of elementary school students once a child in their class is found to have head lice.
The child with lice doesn’t have to be identified, but the notices do have to include ways recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat and prevent head lice — and they should go out no later than 48 hours after a school official or nurse learns about the lice.
Read more (New Head Lice Law)”
This district deals with head lice on a case by case basis.
“Head lice, although not an illness or a disease, is very common among children and is spread very easily through head-to-head contact during play, sports, or nap time and when children share things like brushes, combs, hats, and headphones. If careful observation indicates that a student has head lice, the school nurse will contact the student’s parent to determine whether the child will need to be picked up from school and to discuss a plan for treatment… After the student has undergone one treatment, the parent should check in with the school nurse to discuss the treatment used. The nurse can also offer additional recommendations, including subsequent treatments and how best to get rid of lice and prevent their return.” (Source HCISD.org)
If you are in the McAllen area and you get a call from the school telling you that your child has head lice, don’t despair. We can help you today! Give LiceDoctors a call at 956-278-3642 and we will take the burden off of you. That’s a guarantee!