Head lice (pediculus) is a parasitic insect infection that is spread from human to human through direct contact. They are unable to jump or fly. The insects do not live on any animals other than humans. Head lice pose no serious threat and no transmission of disease is noted though head lice infestations. Head lice can be difficult to diagnose due to the difficulty of finding lice and the primary symptom of itching is not seen in 100% of cases. Also, it typically only occurs after prolonged exposure to lice saliva and faeces. Nits (egg casings) are not a diagnosis of an active infection and often stay attached to the hair until the nit grows out and is cut away. Lice that fall from the hair are lice that are likely dead or dying and constitute an extremely low risk of infestation of another person.
In order to do a thorough examination, it is recommended that the hair is damp, a nit comb is used and the entire head is examined. It is also recommended that examinations are carried out on a regular basis (i.e. best practice is weekly).
The school will notify parents how to identify and check for infections. Information will be supplied to new and current families every year. Information sheets should be available at the Reception area and Sick Bay to be available to parents at all times upon request.
If a student is suspected of having lice, or a parent reports that a child has lice, the school nurse should be notified by the teacher. The nurse will then request the parent of the student to do a lice check (see Lice Treatment information sheet) on the student at home as well as on all household members. The student should remain in class and be prevented from prolonged head to head contact with other students. Staff should follow up with family to ensure the infection has indeed been resolved.
If a student is known to have been repeatedly been infected, referral to a community health professional is recommended and if needed, additional action by the school will be taken to ensure any issue is addressed for the school community.