Backpacks temporarily banned as Moore County school battles bedbugs
Posted April 11
West End, N.C. — Treatment is expected to begin Wednesday to battle bedbugs at West Pine Elementary School in Moore County.
The school system is responding to what it described as a “couple of incidents” and a spokesperson for the school said the scope of the problem is limited.
The director of student services said the initial case happened about a month ago, when a bug found in a classroom was identified as a bedbug.
Following the discovery, school officials sprayed the building with pest control that is used by the school system on a regular basis.
"We have an integrated pest management environmental specialist on staff. He handled the first occurrence," said student support services director Seth Powers.
After another incident this week, school officials decided to take a more aggressive approach to the problem. Trained dogs were brought in to identify additional bedbugs and five more were found, brining to total number of bugs found in the past few weeks up to seven.
School officials said they plan to bring in an outside pest management company to spray the building Wednesday and again next week, when students are on spring break.
“We’ll have outside pest control come in. They’ll spray the school as well as use a heat treatment on any areas that cannot be sprayed. So, in roughly about two weeks, we’ll have the dogs come back in and just do another check,” said Powers.
School officials said they have not tracked down where the bedbugs came from, but they did say about four students have exhibited symptoms of bedbug bites. Those students were allowed to change into clothes kept in the office at school and the clothes they came to class in were placed in a dryer.
Parents have been notified of the situation and students were asked not to bring backpacks into the school this week, out of concern they could be carrying bedbugs. All books used by students must be returned to the school and students will not receive any take-home assignments for the remainder of the week, school officials said.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, bedbugs are not generally considered a public health threat because they are not known to carry human diseases.
School nurse Phyllis Magnuson echoed that sentiment, saying that other than the possibility of an itchy bite, there's no immediate health risks to children.
"They do not spread disease at all. They are just pests, they're nuisances. Their bite can be itchy, sometimes they're not even itchy," she said.
The school, however, does have a policy in place to offer assistance to families who experience an infestation and may not have the money to take care of the problem.
"We just want to stop it before it goes any further," Magnuson said.