Schoolhouse Head Lice Protocol

Updated October 2017

For families and teachers of school-age children, head lice can be a real nuisance. The purpose of this document is to outline the roles, responsibilities and expectations of the Schoolhouse community in assisting with the treatment and control of head lice in a consistent and coordinated manner. While parents have the primary responsibility for the detection and treatment of head lice, our school community will work in a cooperative and collaborative manner to assist all families to manage head lice effectively.

Goals of head lice education at the Schoolhouse

It is expected that families attending the Schoolhouse will:

Guidelines for parents to control head lice

Head lice aren’t dangerous and they don’t spread disease. But they are contagious, and they can be downright annoying. Their bites may cause your child’s scalp to become itchy and inflamed, and persistent scratching may lead to skin irritation and even infection. Having head lice is not a sign of uncleanliness or poor hygiene. These pesky little bugs can be a problem no matter how often a person clean their hair or bathes. Head lice move by crawling, they cannot hop or fly. Head-to-head contact with an already infested person is the most common way to get head lice.

Inspect your child’s head for lice and nits

Treatment of head lice

Lice biology and washing recommendations


What is the Schoolhouse’s lice policy?

We follow the CDPH guidelines on lice prevention and control in schools and have a no-lice policy. Children at the Schoolhouse may not come to school with live lice. But once treated, they may return.

If you find head lice on your child:

  1. Email the Head of School to let her know. This information will be treated confidentially, and the Head of School will determine whether classroom or school-wide notification is necessary. Names of students will not be shared to protect privacy.
  2. Treat your child for head lice. This may be an at-home treatment or a professional treatment. Follow the treatment as prescribed by the professional or the over-the-counter instructions.
  3. Let the Head of School know which treatment you have performed prior to your child’s return to school.
  4. Your child may return to school once treatment has begun.
  5. A trained person designated by the Head of School may check your child for lice before they return to class.

Where did the Schoolhouse lice policy come from? What are best practices for schools?


Head lice, while a significant nuisance problem, do not transmit disease to humans. Traditionally, head lice policies in schools emphasized that a child infested with head lice could not return to school until no nits were found in their hair (“no-nit” policy). There is no evidence that a no-nit policy prevents or shortens lengths of outbreaks. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Nurses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDPH) are all opponents of no-nit policies. “No-nit” policies that require a child to be free of nits before they can return to schools should be discontinued for the following reasons:

CDPH recommends a no-lice policy. The essential components of a no-lice policy are as follows.

Students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day, be treated, and return to class after appropriate treatment has begun. Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.

In addition, “there is a lack of evidence showing that routine class or school-wide screening reduces lice infestation rates. Parents should check their children for lice regularly. If lice are seen on a child at school, the parents should be called to pick up their child at the end of the school day... At home, all members of the family must be checked for head lice. This policy allows the parent to treat the child overnight. The day following treatment, the child should be re-examined and return to school. If the child is still infested, then the parent should be re-contacted. While classroom or school-wide notification is not recommended after head lice have been detected in a student, this policy is at the discretion of the school.”