How All Schools Should Handle Lice Screenings—a School Nurse’s Perspective

As a healthcare professional working in a Coral Gables school, I see my fair share of children who complain of incessant itching on their scalp. It’s usually a no-brainer. Itchy scalp, dry skin, and the tell-tale white specks at the base of the hair follicles—all of this equals a nasty lice outbreak that’s more annoying and inconvenient than concerning. But each year, there’s a similar response to any outbreak. Not just in my school, but in others across the state and even the country!

Managing Lice in a School Setting

Come lice season, we get an onslaught of requests from concerned parents, all asking the school administration to do more. They want to know outright if a child has lice and who they are, insecticides being used in buses and classrooms, and the child to be restricted from attending classes. Moreover, they want their possessions to be quarantined, as though they’re infected with a contagious disease. All of this is not an exaggeration. According to the National Association of School Nurses, even with the availability of comprehensive knowledge available regarding head lice, children and families are still negatively affected. There’s a certain social stigma that goes with a child having nits or lice. And despite parents having access to proper professional lice removal services, some still use home remedies and even over-the-counter treatments to unsuccessfully treat lice. And that makes the condition worse. Having been in this field, I see firsthand how this affects children. They feel like they’ve committed a crime. They’re ostracized by their friends and they generally carry a feeling that they’ve somehow failed at keeping themselves nit-free. This, in turn, greatly affects their self-esteem. And even after the infestation is eliminated, these children worry for a long time about whether they might catch lice again. As a community that faces lice outbreaks every year, this collective attitude must change.

What Can Be Done

As a school nurse, my primary goal is to identify which children have head lice and find a way to break this cycle of infestation. However, a school nurse can’t do all this alone. how all schools should handle lice screenings—a school nurse’s perspectiveParents need to work alongside to ensure that their child is monitored for any symptoms related to head lice. If they do show symptoms like itchy scalp, dryness or a feeling that something is crawling in their hair, the school should be notified straightaway. Once a parent comes to me with the news, I then provide them with the right treatment method. I always suggest going for a professional lice removal service, rather than depending on dubious home remedies. This way, the parent can be sure that their lice issue will be effectively taken care of. That is how parents and schools can come together to make sure that lice screenings provide some sort of positive result.


Many schools now bring in professional lice removal services—such as we do with Lice Troopers in Coral Gables, Miami and other cities in Florida—for school screenings. These doctors educate students on lice and how outbreaks should be handled. However, unless parents come onboard and take action alongside, it will take time for us to see any change in how lice infestations spread.