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Communicable Diseases and Common Pests

Communicable Diseases

DCPS follows DC Health regulations regarding communicable diseases, including what should be reported to DC Health, when and how communications should go out to school communities, and when students should be excluded from school to protect the health of others. More information about DC Health's School Health Surveillance can be found here. 

Bed Bugs

DC Health has resources available to help students and families who have bed bugs in their home.


Per DC Municipal Regulations, DC Public Schools does not exclude students from school when they have lice, but we do want to make sure families have the information they need to monitor and care for their children.

What are head lice?

Head lice are parasitic insects found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of affected people. They are very common, affecting 6 – 12 million people worldwide each year. Head lice feed on blood several times a day and live close to the human scalp. Head lice are not known to spread disease, and students should not be sent home from school because of head lice. If a school nurse determines that a child at school has head lice, the family should be notified and asked to begin treatment at home. The family should confirm with the school that treatment has begun, and, after treatment has been initiated, the student can return to school and the school nurse should check the child’s head for lice.

Prevention and treatment are key to minimizing the spread of head lice from one person to another. Schools should be mindful of head lice, minimizing opportunities for students to have their heads close together while working on an assignment or playing. At home, families should check their children’s heads for lice and nits, especially when there is a known case within the family or a child’s classroom or when a child reports itching on the head. Vigilance, including possible repeat treatments and combing out lice and nits with a lice comb, is key to preventing and treating head lice.

Below is more information to help schools and families manage head lice, including images of head lice and nits and treatment strategies: