Head Lice

Head Lice Information for Schools

Students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day, be treated, and return to class after appropriate treatment has begun. Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.

Head lice can be a nuisance but they have not been shown to spread disease. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) advocate that “no-nit” policies should be discontinued. “No-nit” policies that require a child to be free of nits before they can return to schools should be discontinued for the following reasons:

  • Many nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may in fact be empty shells, also known as ‘casings’.
  • Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.
  • The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.
  • Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by nonmedical personnel.

More on: Head Lice Treatment

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Page last reviewed: September 2, 2015




Head Lice

Head lice are small insects that live in people's hair and feed on their blood. Head lice are common among school-aged children. Lice glue their eggs (or "nits") to hair so that the nits do not get brushed off. Nits take six to nine days to hatch, and seven or more days for the lice to become egg-laying adults. Lice die quickly (within two days) without feeding, so they cannot live very long away from a person's head. Children can give head lice to other children from head-to-head contact and sometimes when they share combs, hats, clothing, hair clips, scarves, or other personal items. Head lice are a problem in homes, day care centers, and elementary and preschools. Kids are much more likely to get lice from family members and playmates than from classmates at school. ‚Äč

Educational Materials
  • A Parent's Guide to Head Lice brochure 

To order copies of this brochure in English and Spanish, please email VBDS@cdph.ca.gov(Quantities are limited.) 


The Orcutt Union School District does not discriminate against individuals based on actual or perceived race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, veteran status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sex, or sexual orientation. Compliance Officer: Susan Salucci, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources/Discrimination/Equity & Title lX Compliance Officer, 500 Dyer Street, Orcutt, CA 93455, Email: ssalucci@orcutt-schools.net, Phone: 805-938-8909. See district policies at http://www.orcuttschools.net/district_information/legal_notices/title_IX