Back to School: Preventing the Spread of Bed Bugs in Schools

Although it isn’t common, there have been reports of schools in the United States having a problem with bed bugs. This year we have had residents from Lee’s Summit and Overland Park think they have gotten bed bugs from local schools.  This problem usually surfaces when students are returning to school from the summer or other holidays; this is usually the case since more and more homes are having issues with these pests. The real question is Could you get bed bugs from school? This is very possible if other kids bring them from home on their clothes, in backpacks or other belongings. Bear in mind that a clean school environment can equally breed bed bugs. In this post, we will talk about how to prevent the spread of bed bugs in our local schools.

 

How bedbugs spread

Bed bugs are dispersed in multiple ways, which include:

  • Traveling and
  • Secondhand furniture sales

 

Traveling

Bear in mind that moving from home to school is a form of travel for these little hitchhikers. Bed bugs can attach to clothes, books, crevices of shoes, school bags and lunch packs. Once you reach school, they can spread from their “means of transportation,” to where they can either hide in corners in the classroom or attach to other students and even teachers! The students, teachers and bed bugs will then return home. This is how bed bugs can enter your home, and also those that visit it. However if not treated quickly the bed bugs spread not only to others who visit your home, but also back to school continuing the cycle. In no time at all, much of the school and many in it could have propagated their spread to their homes. Although a full bed bug infestation isn’t common, it is a very real possibility; luckily most schools have a bed bug policy letting everyone be on the lookout for those little hitchhikers.  Schools can also run regular bed bug inspections with a local bed bug exterminator.

 

Second-hand furniture

A false report is going around that bed bugs only live in beds, but this is not the case. They also attach to other furniture items in the home, including bedside cabinets, wardrobes, sofas and so on. Consequently, one of the ways to spread bed bugs is via second-hand furniture sales. Whether it is the school selling or buying second-hand items, they can carry bed bugs.  Although this method is not as common as traveling through students, it is a way bed bugs can spread from school to home.

 

Bed bugs and school attendance are correlated with having a higher chance of someone having a bed bug infestation, and it is important to follow the school’s bed bug policy if you or someone you know gets bed bugs, whether it is believed they came from school or not.  When it comes to students school attendance, if they have a bed bug infestation at home they should look at the school’s bed bug policy before returning. In most cases, they should be fine as long as student’s items are treated. It is recommended the house go through a heat treatment or other appropriate treatment so any items the bed bugs have traveled on can be treated.  If you hear someone in the area has bed bugs don’t fret just be preventative, and you should have nothing to worry about.

 

How to get rid of bed bugs at schools

The school board and faculty should also play their part in the prevention and eradication of bed bugs in school protocol.  The first part is having regular inspections and possibly a monitoring program to help detect early signs of infestation.

Deep cleaning can also be carried out for more assured prevention of the bed bugs, some of which are:

  • Vacuuming of crevices and cracks
  • Encasing mattresses and beds in special bags
  • Filling cracks in moldings, walls, and floors
  • Dismantling furniture and bed frames
  • Removing eggs with a stiff brush

Second, the school should have a bed bug policy and a way for parents to report a home bed bug infestation before the school is infested. If the school has one, the policy should be followed. If the school does not have on in place, one needs to be formulated.

 

Formulation of a school policy on bed bug

If there is not policy yet developed, you should call on pest control exterminators or experts to help exterminate the bed bugs from the school if they exist as well as help draft the school’s bed bug policy.

If your school does not have a policy yet, you should not delay in formulating one. You should involve the school health team, including the school nurse, in the process.

As part of the school bed bug formulation strategy, the school health team should forward bed bug letter to parents so that parents can prevent their homes from getting infested by bed bugs.

The bedbug notification letter should equally be presented to faculty any guests who may have visited the school recently; this will help educate everyone in the school and community about the policies on bed bug infestations as well as enlighten the school community about the precautions and recommended treatment methods to help prevent bed bugs, and take care of bed bugs and their bite.

The bed bug policy should also cover the important topic of school attendance, and the common question Should a student be excluded from school for bed bugs? As mentioned earlier if a student’s home is affected by bed bugs they can generally keep attending school. If the school is infested with bed bugs that can be a big problem. The entire cleaning process can take place during the weekend when students are not in school but may take longer depending on the severity of the infestation.  

 

Your Part in Preventing Bed Bugs at School

Although you can not pay for and have the school treated for bed bugs you can do your part by following the school bed bug school policy. Help prevent bed bugs from entering the school by regularly checking your own home from bed bugs. If you travel, you should also follow these tips on preventing bed bugs when traveling.  You also should check and see when the last time the school had a thorough bed bug inspection.

If you do get bed bugs, you should not feel embarrassed to let the school and your neighbors know. Many believe that bed bugs only can live in dirty places, but this is not true; bed bugs can be founded in some of the cleanest places as well.  Most of the reports can be done anonymously and this report not only will help prevent your neighbors from getting bed bugs but will lower the risk of bed bugs coming back from someone that got bed bugs from your home originally.

 

Conclusion

The school should never delay in formulating a school protocol on bed bug eradication and every member of the school community, including parents and residents, must be carried along in the process. Bed bugs spread fast and must be prevented from spreading without delay.