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Head Lice Guidelines

Under Ontario Regulation 558/91 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Pediculosis (head lice) is not on the list of communicable diseases. As such, the boards of health consider head lice to be a nuisance and not a health hazard.

The level of service provided by the Porcupine Health Unit relating to the management of head lice in the schools is derived from the Health Promotion and Protection Act mandate. 

The changes in the service delivery have prompted the school boards to work cooperatively with the Medical Officer of Health to initiate measures to provide a basic level of service throughout the Porcupine Health Unit area. The intent of the information contained here is to:

  • provide an equitable level of service to all schools,
  • provide a systematic process for dealing with and controlling outbreaks of head lice in the school and community,
  • educate parents, teachers, students and other school board staff about head lice.

In order for a head lice control program to be effective, it is necessary that all major groups work together:

  • health unit
  • trustees, principals, teachers, students, secretaries, custodians
  • local community (parents and health professionals)

The major responsibility for safeguarding the health, safety, and well-being of the child lies with the parent or legal guardian. If a child is infested with head lice, it is the parents’ responsibility to immediately provide treatment for disinfestation and to take all precautions in the home to prevent the transmission of head lice to other family members.

Whose job is it anyway?

Head lice control works best when everyone helps. Parents, teachers, students, and health units all have a part to play in controlling the ongoing problem.

Parents

  1. Examine children’s heads weekly for signs of infestation.
  2. Notify the school of suspected cases.
  3. Carry out treatment for elimination of lice and inform school that treatment has been completed.

School and Teacher

  1. Distribute head lice information to families of students at the beginning of the school year or as needed.
  2. Distribute information in classes where head lice is suspected.
  3. Advise parent/guardian by letter (or form) when their child is identified as having head lice. Advise parent/guardian on school’s policy about exclusion and when to return to school.
  4. Report suspected cases to principal.

Porcupine Health Unit

  1. Assist in providing educational material and consultation to staff, students and parents on request.
  2. Provide education presentations to students, staff and parents on request.
  3. Provide training in head lice control to school personnel, volunteers and parents on request.

Dissemination of information

Prior to or during the first week of school in September, the Principal should provide to all staff:

  • information related to head lice detection and how to report to the health unit,
  • protocol of school procedures for dealing with a student suspected of having head lice.

Early in the school year, preferably before the end of the month of September, the Principal should send a letter to all parents which includes:

  • information about head lice,
  • parents’ responsibility in managing head lice and the need to cooperate with the school.

Consideration should be given to sending reminders to parents regarding head lice control (e.g., a brief paragraph in the school newsletter) or discussions at regularly scheduled parent meetings (e.g., parent/teacher nights, school open house).

The Porcupine Health Unit can provide information sessions to parents and/or teachers regarding facts, myths, detection and treatment of head lice.

What to do if head lice is found?

When a pupil is identified as having head lice:

  1. The principal should contact the parent or legal guardian to pick up their child and provide the parent with the necessary treatment information for the management of head lice.
  2. If the parent/guardian cannot be contacted, the child may be removed from the classroom at the discretion of the Principal, until the end of the school day.
  3. The Principal should ensure that a letter is sent home with all the students in the affected child’s classroom to advise parents that head lice was identified in the classroom.

Sample Letter to Parents 

Information for parents about head lice

Printable fact sheet