skip to main content

Communicable Diseases


Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Maryland Department of Health (MDH) define a fever as any abnormal elevation of body temperature above the normal range of up to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit orally. Fever is usually indicative of an infectious process. Temperatures above 103 degrees may require immediate medical attention. On occasion a subnormal temperature may also indicate an illness.

How schools handle students with a high fever

Students with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will be sent home and should not return to school until their temperature has remained below 100 degrees for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Students with a temperature equal to or greater than 103 degrees who are in the health room for longer than 1 hour may require emergency medical services.


After an episode of vomiting, the student will be evaluated in the health room. If the child appears unwell, with or without a fever, the parent/guardian will be notified and the student may be sent home. That student should remain home for 24 hours after last episode of vomiting.


Students with complaints/episodes of diarrhea will be evaluated by the health room. If a child has severe diarrhea (3 or more episodes), with or without a fever, notify parent/guardian. The student should go home and encourage medical follow up.

Head Lice


An infestation of the head by the head louse pediculus humanus capitis. Head lice spend their life cycles on the skin of the human host. Lice are spread by direct contact (head to head) with an infested person and by contact with contaminated articles such as brushes, clothing, bedding, hair bows, etc.

How they form

Lice do not fly or hop, they move by crawling. The incubation period from the laying of eggs to the hatching of the first nymph is 10-14 days, but may be shorter in hot climates and longer in cold climates. Mature head lice capable of reproducing do not appear until two weeks later. Nymphs begin to lay eggs (nits) in 8-10 days after hatching. Nits have the potential of hatching and becoming live lice. Lice require a human host to reproduce, and survive only 48 hours when denied a host.


Lice DO NOT transmit any disease and are considered a “nuisance” problem by both the Center for Disease Control and the Howard County Health Department.

The school system does not routinely send out school-wide notifications of head lice unless greater than 10% of a population has confirmed live lice. Students who have been treated for live lice can return to school with proof of treatment (box from lice shampoo) even if they still have nits. It is important that families follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Most over-the-counter products require a second treatment in 7-10 days.

Students with nits or lice

A student with complaints of an itchy scalp will be evaluated by the health room staff. If live lice are found, the parent/guardian will be notified about the need to treat with a pediculocide. “No Nit” policies are no longer indicated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Therefore, students that present with nits will not be sent home.

Students will be required to show proof of treatment prior to the return of school including but not limited to the prescription or over the counter box. The recommendation is to retreat the student in 7-10 days per the product instructions.

Health Room staff will check any close contacts such as siblings and/or other students with symptoms. Routine screenings are not recommended.

For information regarding specific communicable diseases visit the Maryland Department of Health Communicable Disease Summary.