Recently, I was notified that Campbell Jr. High was infested with bedbugs and the school district was doing nothing except attempting to cover it up. It took shockingly little, effort on my part to discover enough evidence to prove that there was no doubt a problem. The exact scope of the problem I am still sorting out.
Both Campbell Jr. High and Shearer Elementary have bedbugs. It is possible that George Rogers Clark High School has them as well. How many of the critters is yet to be determined. Clark County School Superintendent, Paul Christy, relayed to me his belief that perhaps people are calling something a bedbug that is not. He did agree that a single bug had been spotted and he had the room cleaned. Students and staff at the schools have different stories. They are complaining of bite marks, infestations, hitch-hiking bugs that have invaded their homes and money paid out of their personal pockets to combat a problem the school district refuses to address.
There are only 3 reasons why the district and staff and students could have such vastly different versions of events.
1. The principals at the schools are intentionally misleading the superintendent as to the severity of the problem.
2. The superintendent is trying to cover up the story and keep the public unaware so parents don’t keep students at home.
3. Staff and students are overreacting.
I’m inclined to mark off number three simply due to the number of people who have contacted me in various positions across the county.
It’s the responsibility of the principal to notify the superintendent of problems in the schools such as bedbugs. The superintendent then has a responsibility to let the public know by sending letters home to parents. That has not happened. Christy told me he wasn’t sending letters home warning parents about bedbugs because there had only been one bug. However, bite marks on multiple people, especially if those people are in separate areas of the school, would indicate the presence of more than a single bug.
The district has a policy for head lice but not bedbugs, which is the crux of the problem. When there is no policy there is bound to be conflict. It is ridiculous that the district has not adopted any sort of policy pertaining to bedbugs considering how much they have been in the news. Multiple surrounding counties have the same policy for head lice, scabies and bedbugs.
Until the problem is aggressively confronted bedbugs will continue to be a problem. They are extremely difficult to get rid of once you have them and students can carry hitch-hiking bugs back and forth between school and home. To reduce the chances of the bugs infecting your home you can do the following things:
1. Use clear plastic bags inside your child’s backpack to encase personal belongings if possible.
2. Immediately, upon coming home don’t allow your child to touch any furniture or other items that will allow a bug to disembark. Place backpacks and clothing worn to school in a dryer on highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes.
3. If you pick your child up immediately place his/her backpack in a garbage bag and seal it until you arrive home. Consider plastic seat coverings in your vehicle to keep bugs from getting into the car.
4. Educate yourself and your child on the signs of bedbugs and inspect yourselves and your home on a regular basis.
4. If you see a single bug in your home assume there are more and treat your home immediately. Pesticides are the most effective way to kill them but it is expensive. Steam cleaning is a good alternative if proper procedures are followed.
I want to make clear that bedbugs is a COMMUNITY problem. They can be anywhere and it is up to every citizen to be aware of the signs and actively combat them at the onset. Part of that combat should be communication. We cannot have our school officials operating as the bedbugs do, in secret. Making parents aware of the potential for bedbugs and allowing them the opportunity to protect their homes is beneficial to everyone and is the very first step in getting rid of them
In closing, I’d like to say that Dr. Kuduk allows time at board meetings for community members and staff to come before the board. If you are not getting satisfactory answers at the school level you should exercise that right. Board members serve the community. They will write policies if enough of the community voices respectful concern. Until that time, I have included links you may find helpful.