The occurrence of head lice is the most common insect infestation in humans throughout the world. In Queensland, infestation occurs mainly in children of primary school age. However, head lice infestation may affect people of any age, nationality, gender or socio-economic status. It is as much a social issue as a health or educational issue, and the way that it is approached can have significant influence on a student’s emotional, social and educational development. Head lice do not pose any serious health risks but they can be difficult to manage. Schools have a responsibility for minimising risk to school community members of being affected by head lice while at schools, but parents have responsibility for prevention, detection and treatment of head lice among their own children. Schools should utilise the following guidelines, adapted from guidelines developed by Education Queensland, for minimising the presence of head lice at school and managing head lice incidents. Further information in treating head lice is available from Queensland Health.
Control of head lice is a community issue that can be productively addressed only through a cooperative approach between parents, students and the school. Queensland Health or other local health service providers may also be approached for assistance.
To help control head lice, it is reasonable to expect that schools, through the leadership of the Principal, will:
It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children do not attend school with untreated head lice. To achieve this, it is reasonable to expect that parents will:
It is considered the prime responsibility of parents to detect and treat head lice.
There is no general expectation that schools will physically check students for the presence of head lice. However, if the principal suspects the presence of head lice at school and determines that physically checking students would be an effective part of a head lice control strategy, then staff members or other willing adults authorised by the principal may physically check for head lice only if:
As outlined above, it is the parents’ responsibility to treat head lice. Current information on recommended treatment is available from Queensland Health, the local pharmacy or doctor and could be provided by the school to parents as the providers of treatment.
The level of treatment assistance offered to parents is a matter for each school to determine.
A school could undertake treatment only under exceptional circumstances when the principal has determined it necessary for a student’s well-being and educational development.