Head Lice Protocol

Head lice protocol in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District has changed. Our protocol for head lice now aligns with the evidence based practices and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of School Nurses. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Nurses advocate that “no-nit” policies should be discontinued and believe a child should not miss school because of head lice. 

WAWM District Nurses will now be implementing the guidelines below to support families as they are affected by lice and nits.

  • Parents/guardians will be notified by phone and information related to detection and head lice treatment will be provided at that time or sent home with the student.

  • Students will NOT be sent home early from school; they will go home at the end of the day for treatment, and may return to school the next day after being screened and cleared (no live lice).

  • Classroom checks and letters home regarding individual lice cases will be discontinued unless three students or approximately 10% or more of the class is affected.   

Head lice are wingless insects and cannot jump or fly. They move by crawling, and are mostly spread by direct head-to-head contact – for example, during play at home or school, slumber parties, sports activities or camp. It is also possible, but not common, to spread head lice by contact with clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats or other personal items, such as combs, brushes or towels. As you and your family may deal with this uncomfortable but common issue, keep in mind that head lice infestations are not related to cleanliness and can occur in all socioeconomic groups.

Fall and spring are frequent times of the year when head lice occurrence is identified. We request that you proactively and routinely check your children's hair for the presence of lice and/or their eggs (nits). More information and resources can be found via the web links below.

Center for Disease Control: Head Lice
American Academy of Pediatrics: Treatments for Headlice
National Association of School Nurses: Head Lice 101

Old Protocol
If a student is found to have evidence of lice the following steps will be taken:

  1. The student will be sent to the office until the parent/guardian/emergency contact arrives.

  2. Siblings will be called to the office for screening.

  3. Whenever a student is found to have lice and/or nits, all students from that classroom shall be screened.

  4. Parents/guardians/emergency contact will be called to take children home for treatment.

  5. Provided to parents/guardians/emergency contact a copy of the West Allis Health Department “Head Lice Treatment Guidelines” form with the treatment checklist and the “Parent/Guardian Tips for Treating Lice”

  6. Parents/guardians must complete and sign the “Confirmation of Head Lice Treatment and Nit Removal” section of the notice before sending child/children back to school.

  7. Each student identified as having active head lice shall be excluded from school until verification of proper treatment.

  8. The first detection of nits/lice in a classroom, the Classroom Lice Notification Letter will be sent to parents of students in that classroom.

  9. Whenever multiple cases are confirmed in a school, at the Principal’s discretion, the Multiple Cases Lice Notification Letter will be sent to parents of all elementary school students.

  10. If the student is free of signs of lice and nits, the student may return to class.

  11. If the student has a small number of nits, the nits should be removed from the student’s hair by school staff.

  12. If the student is found to have an excessive number of nits, the student should be sent home again.

  13. All elementary schools must conduct school-wide lice checks with students twice annually. 

New Protocol
If a student is found to have evidence of live lice, the following steps will be taken:

  1. The student will go home at the end of the day. 

  2. The parent/guardian will be notified that day by telephone and by a note sent home stating that prompt, proper treatment is required.

  3. Re-admittance to the classroom the next day will occur after successful treatment and screening (no live lice).

  4. Notification letters will be sent home to alert parents only if three students in a classroom or approximately 10% are found with lice.