officials are warning parents about a recent outbreak of head lice at one its elementary schools.
According to a district letter sent to parents at Homestead Elementary School this week, several students have contracted lice in the past week. District Health Coordinator Jill Accardo wrote in the letter that have been educated on prevention and the custodial staff have stepped up their cleaning efforts.
“Soft furniture, head phone covers and stuffed animals have been removed from the school,” she wrote. “Classrooms are bagging up backpacks and coats instead of having coats hang next to one another on hooks.”
Several district nurses routinely have been checking students throughout the building and the Kendall and Will County health departments have stepped in to offer Homestead families.
Accardo stressed that lice is not spread due to a lack of cleanliness.
“Lice are spread through head-to-head contact or by contact with surfaces, since lice can live up to two days without human contact. Head lice do not jump or fly,” she wrote “With cooperation from everyone in the school community we can control the spread of lice.”
The following are several points included in the letter to help parents with prevention and treatment:
- Parents need to check their children's heads daily over the next several weeks to make sure that they do not see live lice or nits in the hair. The following websites may assist you with proper procedures for picking out the nits and for pictures of what you are looking for.
- Head lice all over the nation have become resistant to over-the-counter shampoos such as Rid or Nix. If you are applying the products and still are seeing large amounts of live lice on the head, then it may be time for another product or a prescription product from your doctor. There are products available by prescription that have proven to be more effective including Ovide (ages 6 and up) and Natroba (ages 4 and up).
- It is important to remember that head lice can be contracted in areas outside of schools as well, such as movie theater seats, car seats, buses, sleepovers, play- dates, daycare and after school activities and sports. We can do many things at school to prevent the spread of lice, but any of these activities can undo our efforts. Please make sure that children do not pile their coats on top of each other at activities They should not share hats, helmets, combs, hair brushes, hairbands or barrettes Parents may want to refrain from sleepovers, carpools and play dates for the next 4-6 weeks.
- Encourage children to refrain from hugging and sitting closely together at this time. Encourage girls to keep their hair back in ponytails, braids or buns.
- Please contact the building nurse if your child contracts head lice. We need to be aware of how many cases we have in the building, and where those cases are located. Your child's name will be kept confidential. Please do not feel embarrassed or ashamed. Anyone can contract head lice.
- Children returning to school after having been treated for head lice need to stop in the nurse's office to make sure that there are no live lice present on the head.
- Treating head lice is a time-consuming process. It is not enough to just shampoo the hair with a product. The white nits need to be picked out of the hair daily over a period o f 2-4 weeks. All bedding, towels, clothes and coats need to be washed. Stuffed animals and bean bag chairs need to be put in plastic bags. All furniture in the home needs to be vacuumed, as well as the carpets and cars. All family members should be treated at the same time. Due to the life cycle of head lice, it is important to treat the head again in 7-10 days with over-the-counter products.
- The local health departments can assist you if you are having difficulty getting rid of head lice. For Will County residents, please call the Environmental Health Division at 815-727-8490. For Kendall County residents, please call the Environmental Health Division at 630-553-8026.