Annual Lice Communication

Annual Lice Communication

Dear Families,

Each year, we provide families with information and resources related to head lice. We do this because school is one place where children may come into contact with head lice.

Head lice are found worldwide. In the United States, infestation with head lice is most common among children in preschool and elementary school (ages 3-11) and their household members and caretakers. Head lice certainly can be an annoyance, but they do not spread disease.

What are head lice?
Head lice are tiny, wingless insects that live close to the human scalp. An adult louse can range in size from a sesame seed to a grain of rice. Lice eggs are tiny teardrop-shaped objects that resemble dandruff but are attached firmly to the hair shaft and cannot be easily removed.

How are head lice transmitted from person to person?
Head lice are spread mainly by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. The most common way to get head lice is by head-to-head contact with a person who already has head lice. Such contact can occur among children during play at school, home, or elsewhere, such as sports activities, playgrounds, camp, and slumber parties. Less commonly, head lice can be spread by sharing clothing or belongings. Head lice cannot jump or fly, and getting head lice is not related to cleanliness of the person or their environment.

What are the signs and symptoms of a head lice infestation?
Common signs and symptoms include:

  • A tickling feeling of something moving in the hair;
  • Itching, caused by a reaction to the bites of the head louse; and
  • Irritability and difficulty sleeping, because head lice are most active in the dark.

We advise parents and guardians to check their child’s head regularly and notify their school nurse if evidence of head lice is found. If you suspect your child may have head lice, it is important to talk to a school nurse, pediatrician, or family physician for confirmation and treatment recommendations.

Students who are reported or discovered to have head lice will be evaluated by the school nurse, who will contact parents/guardians and provide information about appropriate treatment. If live head lice are present, the student will be excluded from school. Close contacts such as siblings may be checked. The school nurse may notify other parents/guardians, maintaining confidentiality, if more than one student in a class or grouping has been found to have head lice. Following treatment for head lice, a student will be reevaluated by the school nurse.

Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) develops procedures to manage conditions that can be transmitted from person to person, such as head lice, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, our local health department, and other appropriate experts.

Please contact your school nurse if you have any concerns about head lice, suspect your child may have head lice, or would like to know more about head lice and management strategies.

For more information about head lice, please see the following resources:

Thank you,

Eileen Gomez
Coordinator of Nursing and Health Services