The church nursery is the place for sharing fun, faith-filled moments–not lice. Head lice or “Pediculous humanus,” only live on the heads of people. Pets have fleas, kids have lice. Not only do parents have to worry about the creepy, itchy bugs but their sticky eggs called nits too. Lice don’t hop–they are transferred head to head when kids put their noggins together. They can also be contacted by using someone else’s hair brushes or borrowing a jacket.
Lice won’t just go away and if they show up in the nursery you have a responsibility towards to your church and your kids. Do you know what to do when one of your children shows up with head lice? Follow these steps for dealing with lice in your nursery.
Remain calm and keep a confidence. You don’t want to embarrass your children or parents. Separate the child in another area like the bathroom or a holding room until parents can be summoned. This should be immediate. Greet the parents with a smile and notify them of what was discovered. Assure them that this kind of infection happens to children regularly and it is not a reflection of their parenting skills. Explain to parents or guardians that you can’t be sure where they lice came from. In most cases, there is no way to tell who had lice first. Try not to speculate or encourage others to do so.
Provide information. Provide treatment information to parents. Explain to them what lotions and shampoos they can use. Be helpful and encouraging by reminding parents they should wash all the child’s clothing and bed linens. Towels and hair brushes will need to be cleaned also.
Give guidelines. Let parents know what the church nursery policy is in regards to lice. A good rule of thumb for skin infections of this type is to allow 36 hours before children return to the nursery. Since most nurseries are only open a few times a week, this will not likely be a problem.
Conduct lice checks. Examine the scalps of other children to verify that the bugs have not spread. Do this immediately after the initial discovery of lice and several times during subsequent visits. Lice can reappear quickly despite a parent’s or worker’s best efforts. Your staff will need to undergo lice checks regularly too. Snuggling with little ones may lead to contacting lice.
Clean the facility. All sheets, blankets and fabrics will have to be cleaned. This includes fabric toys too. Vacuum carpets and wipe down all surfaces.
Inform parents and teachers. Next tell your teachers and parents about the discovery. Do this in person if possible then follow-up with a letter. Extend your apologies and explain what your procedures are. This will encourage your parents to bring children back.
Dealing with lice can be touchy. Many parents take offense or become fearful about lice infestations. Be patient with everyone. Your good behavior will be remembered long after the lice are gone.