The superintendent of Laurel Highlands School District said officials there are doing everything they can to eradicate bedbugs after one was found on a student in the high school last Friday.
Dr. Jesse Wallace said a student reported to the high school on Friday for classes when a bedbug was found in that student’s belongings. Wallace said school officials followed the same procedure as they would when head lice is discovered. The family of the student was notified and the student was excused from school.
“We have to go through a protocol,” Wallace said, who noted the family was educated on how to eradicate the bedbugs at home.
Wallace said in the meantime, the high school was closed on Saturday, Oct. 5, for a complete cleaning and extermination application. During the cleaning, exterminators discovered no additional insects.
Wallace said the student who was excused on Friday then returned to the high school on Monday, and immediately reported to the nurse who determined there were no bedbugs present and was cleared to return to class.
However, Wallace said, bedbugs were found on another student on Monday. On Tuesday, another student was reported to have had head lice and bedbugs were found on one other student that day.
On Wednesday, Wallace said an inspection revealed that bedbugs were in three classrooms.
He said all activities were cancelled for Wednesday evening so the entire high school could be exterminated again. Additionally, Wallace said all school vans and buses will be treated as well over the next few days.
“We will exterminate all of the buildings in the district between now and Sunday,” Wallace said. “This is a precaution because they all ride the same buses, we don’t know who may be in contact with other students as far as extended family and friends. We want to make sure we are covering all of our bases.”
Wallace said school remains in session at all of the district’s buildings, noting that the Department of Health has indicated there is no reason to close the schools at this time. Wallace said for families who wish to not send their children to school, those students will receive an excused absence.
Wallace said district officials are active in educating all families in the district how to eradicate bedbugs in the home.
A letter on the district’s website noted, “bedbugs are not a sign of unhealthy living conditions. Individuals can unknowingly bring them home from public places such as restaurants, movie theaters, and other infested areas in clothes, shoes, and other items.”
“To help break this cycle, the district is asking all parents and guardians to thoroughly check their students and belongings for bedbugs. In addition, we are requesting that all families launder their students’ bookbags and dry them on high heat for at least 30 minutes. This includes coats, PE clothes, swimsuits, and gym bags. Finally, as an additional measure, students will not be permitted to carry bookbags, gym bags, or athletic bags into the high school until Tuesday, October 15, 2019,” the letter states.