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On January 27, 2012, New York’s Fox 5 News reported that there was a bed bug incident in Russel Sage Junior High School, with 1,000 students in Forest Hills. Parents tipped off the media, though most parents were unaware of the issue despite a notification letter. Students claimed bed bugs were found in classrooms, the cafeteria, in addition to an administrative office. Under a state law, a notification letter is supposed to be sent home when there is an infestation, defined by the Department of Education as signs of reproducing bed bugs.
According to Fox and other news reports, after the bed bug was identified on Wednesday, it took the department two days to go to the school to inspect the office where it was found. The room was inspected by staff, not a trained bed bug canine which is 250% better than a human’s accuracy.
The DOE spokesperson declined to state if other parts of the school were inspected, but stated that the problem was resolved. It is unclear if and how much of the school received bed bug treatment before the rooms were reopened to students, teachers, and staff.
In Bell Environmental’s experience, bed bugs can and do live in schools.
Parents should expect their children’s schools to have a clear protocol and communication procedure if and when there is a bed bug incident. (See our suggestions and tips in our December blog post)
Moreover parents, please don’t rely on passing advice on how to prevent bed bugs from coming from a school to your home. Shaking off your clothes as Fox 5 suggests is simply not an appropriate or adequate approach. It is far better to throw your clothing in the dryer on medium high or high heat for 15-20 minutes, and leave backpacks inside sealed plastic bags or bins. (See our detailed advice for returning home from suspect places and traveling in our November blog post )