Two bedbugs were found on the book bag of a student bound for John Bailey School in Bayonne on Nov. 17, resulting in an immediate inspection of the school and fumigation of the bus.
Tuesday in the late afternoon, Acting Principal Edward Beales alerted the Superintendent’s Office that a teacher had seen two small bugs on top of a book bag. He collected the bugs, put them in a safe place, and then called the Board of Health.
“We called the Board of Health, our chief medical inspector, and our pest manager,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan told members of the Board of Education at a Nov. 18 meeting.
“We’ve taken care of the problem.” – Dr. Patricia McGeehan
Beales called the parents of the child, she said, and the bus was fumigated. Overnight, the classroom was cleaned and inspected by the exterminator.
“We also spoke to our chief medical inspector and we sent a letter home to all of the parents notifying them. The parents of the student involved were notified immediately,” McGeehan said. “We wanted to be open with the parents to alert them as to what is going on.”
The letter detailed some information about bedbugs, and how they can be carried into places on coats and clothing, and often also inhabit furniture and rugs.
Bedbugs are small, flat insects that feed on human blood, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They are reddish in color, wingless, and range from one to seven millimeters in length. They can live for several months without a blood meal. They spread quickly since they can go without food, can reproduce 500 times in a lifetime, and can remain dormant for up to 18 months. These bugs find refuge in rugs, clothing, and furniture, and spread easily.
Last month, bedbugs were found in two classrooms at School 22 in Jersey City. Reports also suggest that the Jersey City Municipal Court’s data center was also infested.
No bugs in the school
The classroom at Bailey School that the student attended was sealed off after the report, pending additional tests, McGeehan said.
Specialized exterminators, she said, are treating the surfaces on which the pests could take refuge, while school officials will be on alert to watch for signs of them and asked parents to also keep on the lookout.
McGeehan said school principals are charged with the responsibility of monitoring this potential problem in the schools. Four have already been sent for pest management training, and the remaining principals are scheduled to be sent for training in the near future.
“We’ve taken care of the problem,” she said.
This is the first instance of finding bedbugs associated with the schools, she said.
To check further against possible infestation, the school district brought in a bug-sniffing dog. A beagle went through eight classrooms and the school library, and then went through the rest of the school. No signs of bedbugs were found.
Hoping that the district will not have any more problems in the future, McGeehan, said the school district is prepared.
“We have a letter to inform parents and a procedure,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t think about these procedures until something happens, and then things fall into place. We have a whole team that worked quite well and we were able to notify everybody. Our students were checked by the nurse. But we check all the time. We also check for head lice on a periodic basis for all students in all schools.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.