News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Head lice roam among Sisters students

Head lice are fairly common among school-aged children. Notifying parents of a small outbreak in multiple grades of Sisters School District, nurses called head lice “pesty nuisances.”

Sisters Elementary School (SES) nurse Jennifer Morris told The Nugget, “We’ve had off and on cases.” The recent letter or communication that went out to parents occurred “on request of a handful of parents that reached out to me over the last month.”

Morris said, “We were hoping spring break would settle things a bit... we’ve had maybe 12 cases that I know of since January. There’s been a few families that have had to do double treatments. There is circulation happening.”

Every spring, winter, and fall, a small number of head lice cases occur in the local schools. Usually, “it goes up in the winter as we’re wearing hats and staying indoors,” she said.

Morris pointed out, “it’s not a disease, it’s a condition. Yes it can be contagious, but it’s not detrimental to our health. So because of that our policy nationwide has changed, with the American Pediatric Association guidelines.We’re trying to help kids stay in school, we’re educating about head-to-head contact being the first line of prevention.”

Treating lice as soon as they are found is essential to slow further spread.

“Prevention is the best medicine,” the letter noted. Parents and guardians should check their students’ heads by combing through hair with a fine-toothed comb at least once per week. If a child has a friend with lice, perform the check daily. Also perform this check before and after any sleepovers.

The nurses advised that people: 1) Wear their hair in a bun, ponytail, or braids; 2) Don’t share brushes, combs, hats, headbands, or similar; 3) Avoid head-to-head contact; and 4) Do not share pillows.

Head lice spread rapidly. If they are found, nurses wrote, “We strongly encourage parents/guardians to contact the families of any play dates your student has had recently to let them know that their children may have been exposed to head lice.”

Schools, sports coaches, other parents, and daycare centers may also be notified. As for treatment, “Please contact your student’s doctor or talk with your pharmacist to choose the right treatment for your student.” Couches, chairs, and headrests can be a site of concern. (See “Treatments available for head lice” sidebar.)

Morris noted, “We’re always trying to stay current with county, state, and national guidelines, and updating our policies as needed.” Thus the schools no longer send kids home automatically if lice are detected.

Instead, if a student has a “confirmed live lice infestation on their head, parents/guardians will be notified and may pick their student up from school for treatment,” the letter stated.


Reader Comments(0)