Managing Head Lice in School Settings and at Home

The following fact sheets (English and Spanish) are copyright free and can be downloaded. They can be printed in black and white or in color to distribute to parents, caregivers and school staff to inform them about head lice.  All are PDF documents.

Head Lice (Pediculosis) Fact Sheets - English

Hojas Informativas Sobre los Piojos en la Cabeza - En Español

State Law and School Policies Addressing Head Lice

Laws, Rules, and Policies

No law in Texas addresses excluding children with head lice from school. The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) does not have authority to impose a set policy on the exclusion or inclusion of students with head lice in school districts. DSHS urges school districts to ensure that its policies and procedures do not unnecessarily cause children to miss class. School districts’ policies and procedures should not encourage the embarrassment and isolation of students who have repeated cases of head lice.

Lice are not a public health threat. DSHS does not monitor or track cases of head lice because they do not carry disease. It is up to each school district to create head lice policies and procedures if they choose. Talk with the school nurse or school administration to determine the school district's policy and procedures. The "Setting Policies for School Districts" header below has policy suggestions.

According to a head lice research article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2015, "No healthy child should be excluded from or allowed to miss school time because of head lice or nits. Pediatricians may educate school communities that no-nit policies for return to school should be abandoned." You can find information for schools at the end of the research article. 

Notice to Parents 

As of September 1, 2017, Texas Education Code, Chapter 38, Section 38.031, Notice of Lice, states the following: "The board of trustees of an independent school district shall adopt a policy requiring a school nurse of a public elementary school who determines or otherwise becomes aware that a child enrolled in the school has lice shall provide written or electronic notice of that fact to:

  1. the parent of the child with lice as soon as practicable but not later than 48 hours after the administrator or nurse, as applicable, determines or becomes aware of that fact; and
  2. the parent of each child assigned to the same classroom as the child with lice not later than the fifth school day after the date on which the administrator or nurse, as applicable, determines or becomes aware of that fact.”

More information about confidentiality is included within the law.

“No-Nit” Policies

A “no-nit” policy excludes students from school based on the presence of lice eggs, whether or not live lice are present. DSHS does not recommend a “no-nit” policy. DSHS does recognize that school districts may adopt one as a local option.

Head lice infestation is a social issue, not a health threat. “No-nit” policies over-emphasis head lice management rather than real, more important health concerns. This over-emphasis can lead to unproductive use of time by school staff and parents, missed classes, unnecessary absences, and parents missing work.

DSHS “No-Nit” Policy 

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses have more information on "no-nit" policies for schools. 

Setting Policies for School Districts

Creating school district policies and procedures should be a joint effort involving: 

  • The district’s school health advisory council 
  • Local health care providers
  • District administrators
  • School nurses
  • Parents
  • Other stakeholders

Remember, no law in Texas addresses excluding a child with head lice from school. School districts and campuses can create their own guidelines by developing written policies that:

  • Ease efficient and consistent implementation by all campuses
  • Protect school nurses, teachers, and other school staff
  • Create peace of mind for administrators and parents
  • Ensure all children are treated in a fair and equitable manner

Considerations for Policy Development

When developing a policy, consider the following:

  1. Screening procedures – staying away from unwarranted mass screenings that disrupt student and teacher class time and take away from the nurses’ ability to address the needs of children who are sick and those with special healthcare considerations. 
  2. Parent/guardian notification – including a lice information fact sheet or brochure with the student handbook at the beginning of the year and notification when there is an infestation confined to a specific classroom. Review Section 38.031 of the Texas Education Code for more information on head lice notification. 
  3. Exclusion protocol – including what happens if the parent is not home. 
  4. Readmission criteria – consider stating that they should use an FDA-approved, medicated treatment. 
  5. Definition of and district response to excessive absences – may help address the issue of parents who cannot keep their children free of lice. Texas Education Agency has criteria for excessive absences.

Additional Considerations

You also may want to address the following:

  • How the school/district may want to address families who cannot afford to pay for the treatment to rid their child of lice.
  • Care in the classroom to prevent the spread of head lice.
  • In-service training for school staff.

Additional Resources

External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These sites may not be accessible to people with disabilities.