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Sandburg Elementary School

2051 Wabash
Springfield, IL 62704

Sandburg: What's Up With Head Lice?

February 18, 2020

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head lice infestations in the United States are most common among preschool and elementary school-age children and their household members regardless of socioeconomic status and hygienic living conditions.   At Sandburg when we talk with students about head lice, our conversation is aligned with current policy from the National Association of School Nurses.  Here are the messages we send:

  • Head lice doesn’t mean you or your home is dirty.  

  • Head lice isn’t dangerous - only a nuisance.  Think of them like mosquitoes.

  • Don’t share things like hats, gloves, combs, scarves, brushes.

  • Don’t put your head against a person when you hug them.

If you attended school in the 1980s - 2000s, you may remember the school nurse coming in and “checking” an entire class of children.  Then a child would mysteriously be sent home…sometimes for days.  As a result, not only did everyone know who checked positive for head lice, but that child’s learning was curtailed due to the exclusionary “no-lice no- nit” policies of the time.

Since head lice is not classified as a public health concern (only a nuisance), current public policy recommends students be allowed to continue their education without interruption and families be educated on how to treat and prevent the spread of head lice.  

At Sandburg, we remind students of the hazards of sharing personal care items and head-to-head contact.  If a classroom has more than one confirmed case of head lice, we keep all coats in that classroom in protective, plastic bags to help prevent the spread of head lice.

Be aware if your child mentions an “itchy scalp.” As you check your child’s head, you are looking for two things;  live lice and nits.  Nits are eggs and may look like dandruff but are more securely attached to the hair shaft and will not brush or fall off easily.   If you find that your child has head lice, please let the office know.  Of course this information will be kept confidential.  It helps us know if we are successfully halting the spread of head lice in your child’s classroom.  Thank you for your assistance in handling this nuisance appropriately.