Hawthorne Elementary School

Head Lice Information


Dear Parent,

Every year, most elementary schools are confronted with pediculosis, commonly known as head lice. Typically we see increases in cases of head lice during those periods following vacations; any time children begin to spend greater amounts of time indoors and in close proximity to one another or at sleepovers. 
Early identification of lice and prompt treatment can successfully prevent the spread of lice to others. Early detection of head lice is imperative to controlling the spread and the treatment of the condition. It is very important for parents to check their child’s head for lice on a regular basis. Screening at home helps to preserve the learning environment and your family’s privacy. Your assistance with this matter will be much appreciated.
Below  you will find detailed instructions for how to check your child for head lice, and what to do if your child has lice. If you think you have found something questionable in your child’s hair, please bring the sample to our school nurse or to the medical professional of your choice. Please notify our school nurse so that she can send home a letter notifying other families in your child’s class. (Your child’s name is not mentioned in these letters.) DO NOT send your child to class if you suspect he/she has lice; instead, bring them DIRECTLY to the school nurse to be rechecked before returning to class.
What to look for:
• Intense itching and scratching of the scalp are main indicators of head lice.
• The presence of lice can be confirmed by close visual inspection under bright light of the hair and scalp.
• Using a tongue depressor or other type of stick, separate the hair into small sections for examination purposes.
• “Nits”, the lice eggs, are whitish or brownish and oval in shape. They are very small—each about the size of a
pinhead—and resemble dandruff. Unlike dandruff, they are sticky and not flakey.
• Lice are small grayish bugs adhering to the hair shafts about 1/4 inch from the scalp. They are often found near the warmer areas of the scalp, such as near the ears or the nape of the neck.
What to do if nits or lice are found:
• Articles of clothing should be removed from school and washed. Hats, hair fasteners, linens, towels, backpacks, clothing, etc. should be washed and dried with hot water and high drying heat for thirty minutes. Although the National Pediculosis Association no longer recommends sealing items (such as pillows or stuffed animals) in plastic garbage bags for 14 days, it makes some parents feel more proactive by doing so. Lice are parasites that require a live host in order to survive. Nits will not typically hatch if they are not on a human host, and a mature louse can only survive about 24 hours off of a human host.
• All carpets, furniture, mattresses, car upholstery, and car seats should be thoroughly vacuumed. (Remember to seal and dispose of all used vacuum bags.)
• Children should receive treatment for lice. There are a number of over the counter or homeopathic treatments available. (Check with the school nurse or your physician for suggestions.)
• If your child develops head lice, it is a courtesy to notify the parents of children with whom he/she has had recent contact. Stopping the problem as early as possible is a key to effective treatment and prevention of additional spread. Please think about how you would feel if the parent of a classmate or friend withheld this information from you. Once your child appears to be nit-free, please continue to check his/her head daily for about a week. The nits expand as they get ready to hatch, and therefore become more visible. This may account for the recurrence that is sometimes experienced after a family thinks they’ve been “cured”. Keep checking!
It is very important that you know that pediculosis is not medically associated with cleanliness. Even children from very clean homes contract head lice, just as children who eat properly and take vitamins catch colds and the flu. Please help us to combat the common misconceptions and stigma that are associated with this condition. It is also important that you discuss with your child the increased chances for spreading lice by sharing combs, brushes, hats, hair restraints, etc. When these objects are shared, it increases a child’s chances of getting lice.
Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Health Services has head lice procedures in place that comply with recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the National Pediculosis Association, the National Association of School Nurses and the DuPage County Health Department.
Thank you, in advance, for your support. Should you require more information regarding head lice, the following websites can serve as helpful resources:
Nikki Tammaru                                                            Jennifer Conwell
Principal                                                                      Elmhurst CUSD 205


HAWTHORNE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL  |  145 ARTHUR  |  ELMHURST, IL 60126 |P 630.834.4541  | F 630.993.8886