Schools are not a place where bed bugs will want to live because they like to be near where humans sleep. So if bed bugs are spotted at a school, it probably doesn’t mean the school is infested. The question is is your child Bringing Bugs Home From School?
But bed bugs are notorious “hitchhikers.” They can easily be transported to a school on the clothes or backpack of an unsuspecting student. Then they can crawl onto the clothes or backup of another student, who takes the bed bugs home, where they can easily become an infestation.
Knowing How to React Properly to Bed Bugs in School
The solution for schools, parents, and students is pest control education about bed bugs. Teachers need to be trained for signs of bed bugs, and parents and students also need to be aware of what to look for in the home. The school should instruct its staff on how to tell if a student who has bed bugs in clothes or a backpack also has an infestation at home (e.g., small bite marks in rows of three, excessive itching by the student). Parents should also be involved in the pest control education. Schools would be wise to send out information to parents about how to look for bed bug signs and how to prevent infestations.
Establishing a Specific Protocol Will Minimize Problems
As part of its pest control education, schools need to instruct teachers and administrators on how to react if bed bugs are suspected. There is no need to panic. Except for rare allergic reactions, bed bugs don’t pose a threat—they’re just a nasty nuisance. But they should trigger an immediate reaction by the school.
It’s a good idea to develop a specific protocol that includes the following steps:
1. Discretely remove a student suspected of having bed bugs from the classroom and have the student, the student’s belongings, and the student’s locker examined by a nurse or other qualified person.
2. If bed begs are found, the principal or nurse should contact the home, always being clear that no accusation is involved—bed bugs can be found in the cleanest of homes. Offer bed bug control education materials to the parents.
3. Parents of children in the affected class or classes should be notified so they can take appropriate bed bug control measures at home. Also offer materials on bed bug prevention.
4. Never remove a student from school for bringing bed bugs home from school, unless the problem persists.
5. Have a pest control specialist inspect the school to determine if treatment is necessary in the affected areas. Although infestations are rare, they can happen, and any bed bug lurking to catch a ride home with a student is a problem.
Photo credit: School of Business