Elementary School Battles BedBugs

NewsChannel21 | GENESEE DEPOT, WI  — A Waukesha County elementary school is in a battle against bedbugs.

Some students went to school with bedbugs in the fall, but parents from other families are now coming to the rescue to try and prevent an infestation at school.

“Someone found it, brought it to the health room, and it was actually a bedbug,” Magee Elementary School Principal Sue Sterner said.

Sterner said the school’s fight against bedbugs started in October.

“Contacted families and did everything we could do here to prevent the spread at school,” Sterner said.

The school isolated the infestation to three families, but the public school can’t turn away students because of bedbugs.

They’re not considered a health risk.

The school’s parent teacher organization, or PTO, bought containers for all 250 students to keep belongings separate and prevent a bedbug infestation.

“I feel bad for the children. They don’t have any control over it,” said Stacy Grafenauer, vice president of Magee Elementary PTO.

As part of responding to the bedbug problem the school purchased a washer and dryer.

Half of it was paid for by the PTO.

The principal and a custodian launder possibly infested clothing daily, and the families with infestations treated their homes in ways they could afford, but the bedbugs didn’t go away.

“There were questions about why is this taking so long? Well, it’s a process,” Sterner said.

“From a public health standpoint, shouldn’t the health department jump in here and help you with this?” WISN 12 News reporter Terry Sater asked.

“Super great question again. You might want to ask them that,” Sterner said.

WISN 12 News asked the Waukesha County Environmental Health Department which said there are no local or state laws that give them authority.

Parents organized a GoFund Me campaign, raising more than $4,000 in four days to completely treat the infested homes.

The money was raised “to give some peace of mind to those families, as well as others,” Grafenauer said.

Magee Elementary School brought in a bedbug detecting dog to make sure there were no bedbugs in school.

There will also be follow-ups at the school and in the treated homes.

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