By Chloe Vincente
DEPOSIT (WBNG) — The Deposit Elementary School is taking caution after the district said bed begs were discovered on personal items of some students.
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that can be difficult to see due to their small size.
Marianne Yourdon, a Communicable Disease Nurse at the Broome County Health Department, said “Bed bugs are flat. They’re reddish brown in color they’re about one to seven millimeters in size which is about the size of the head on Lincoln on a penny.”
On Wednesday, Deposit Schools Superintendent Denise Cook sent this message to families regarding bed bugs:
Recently it was brought to our attention that bed bugs had been brought into our elementary building. Bed bugs have been a popular topic for years and have been found in schools, hospitals, churches, theaters, and even fine hotels. Many of the schools in our area deal with this situation on a daily basis. I wanted to provide you with some information about the situation.
In no way is this an infestation. The source of the bugs has been identified and we are taking every step necessary to isolate the problem. Each day, we are inspecting student’s backpacks and clothing, washing student’s clothing (as necessary), bagging and isolating school and student belongings, and cleaning hard surfaces in the area. Additionally, we have employed organic pesticides and are working with families who are affected by the situation.
You may be wondering why we haven’t used chemical pesticides. Schools follow very strict regulations about the use of harmful chemicals around children. If the situation intensifies enough that we feel it would be necessary to use chemical pesticides, we would notify you because we would have to close school for a period of time. Because the school is not the source of the bugs, treating the problem with chemical pesticides would not prevent the bugs from re-entering the building. It would, however, expose our staff and students to potential health risks. Therefore, this is a lasts resort in this situation.
Today, I met with the Medical Director of the Broome County Health Department who assured me that we are following the expected protocol and regulations set forth by New York State. Because bed bugs (and lice) are not known to cause any health conditions or spread disease, they do not present a valid reason to keep students from attending school. On the contrary, the District has a legal obligation to continue providing all students with an education.
Please don’t hesitate to send your children to school tomorrow. As you know, bed bugs can be found in any establishment in any town. We will continue to be diligent, isolate the problem and treat it on a daily basis. You can help at home by checking your child’s backpack and clothing before and after school. I’ve attached the fact sheet that was sent home with the elementary students today. Please don’t hesitate to email me, Kelli Parsons, or the school nurse with any questions.
Cook said that no bed bugs have been found in classrooms, just on personal property of a couple students.
The Broome County Health Department said it’s not all that uncommon for schools to encounter bed bugs.
“I get calls occasionally where a child has come in with a bed bug either on their clothing or on their backpack,” said Yourdon.
Heather Steffan has two children at Deposit Elementary School. She said the school system is doing its best. She just hopes it doesn’t affect her household. She said, “They’re trying to fix it and I get that I just don’t want it at my house and I hope they don’t get it and bring it back.”
Steffan said overall, she isn’t too concerned but she is monitoring her children for signs of bites. “I just make sure when I get them home they don’t have any thing, not bugs no irritation,” she said.
Typically bed bugs don’t cause any major health problems. Health experts said they can be pesky, and cause discomfort
“They don’t carry human disease the main problem would be if someone was allergic to them. and it is kind of a nuisance and it can lead to difficulty sleeping if you’re getting bit. Yes, this is not anything you want in your home.”
Superintendent Cook said the school is checking student’s belongings and clothing to ensure no bugs are being brought into the school
She said it is safe for parents to send their kids to school.
The district will continue to provide families with updates.