As I arrived at school last Monday morning I wandered up to a group of mums having a chat; I assumed it was about their weekend or how great the ‘CARE’ chairs looked. ‘I’m waiting to see Robin Grace,’ said one. ‘Nits! I’m over it…’
This started a conversation between us that I’ve had on many other occasions at school or over coffee. A staff member joined us and said that she’d seen lice crawling around in kids’ hair and she even saw one travelling across a child’s forehead!! I’ve heard stories like these before too. One of my children has told me on numerous occasions that she can see the lice moving around in her classmates’ hair! If this topic is starting to make you scratch your own head, read on!
As parents, we cringe when we receive the notice in the school bag: IMPORTANT INFORMATION… A CASE OF HEADLICE IN GRADE 1 HAS BEEN REPORTED TO THE OFFICE etc. Of course, lice and school age children can go hand in hand, but what is frustrating for parents, however, is when those notices keep coming home regularly which invariable means that some parents are disregarding them. I’m also positive that not all cases of head lice are reported to the office. So how big is this problem really?
When you receive that notice in the school bag, do you check your child’s hair, or do you think: they’re not scratching, they’re fine, they don’t have them, or do you take quick peek and dismiss the thought of having to treat the child’s hair, wash the bed linen etc. because it’s too hard/ you’re too busy/there’s no money in the purse to buy the treatment products?
I was guilty of that myself a while ago, and kept getting frustrated when my daughter kept getting lice not too long after each treatment. It turned out it was my son who was maintaining a nice little colony in his hair! According to him, his head wasn’t itchy!! And I couldn’t spot anything! Lesson learnt: treat all the kids at once!!
It’s worth remembering:
- Lice are not fussy – they love any hair, clean or dirty
- If found, you must treat the hair, wash bed linen, towels, hats etc.; the lice don’t move out!
- You must repeat treatment after 7 days.
I asked at the school some time ago if there are blanket checks of all students from time to time. I was informed that the school are unable to do this because of privacy constraints. Some schools nearby have a ‘head lice consent to check’ form signed by parent s at the beginning of the school year with all the other consent forms which enables a DEECD representative to visit the school and conduct checks or have the school nurse/staff check. I am certainly not suggesting students be singled out publicly, but a letter home to parents requesting treatment would be appropriate.
The current KPS head lice policy on our school’s website states:
- A pilot program will be undertaken in 2010 to minimise the presence of lice within the school population and to educate the school community about the management of lice. Written consent will be sought from each KPS family.
- As part of this program a trained person (e.g. school nurse) will be employed to check each student’s hair at the start of the year and again about 7-10 days later. All students who are examined for head lice will be given a letter to indicate the presence or absence of eggs or lice at that time…
In the meantime:
- Please take a good look in your child’s hair, especially behind the ears and at the nape of the neck.
- If your child does have head lice or their eggs (nits) – PLEASE treat it and report it to the office; the office staff are very friendly and there’s no need to be embarrassed. This is the only way that the school can monitor the problem and keep families informed.
- Students with shoulder length hair or longer must tie it back as per our current Student Dress Code policy.
- Next time a notice comes home – treat anyway – you may be surprised what you find!
For treatment advice, options and more information, please refer to: www.health.vic.gov.au/headlice