Linton-Stockton Superintendent Nick Karazsia wants it clear: There’s no need to lose sleep over bed bugs in his school system.”We really haven’t had any problems,” Karazsia said. “Knock on wood.”
The pesky parasites, once largely eradicated by the 1940s, have become resurgent since the mid-1990s. Left unchecked, they can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions.
Still, a proposal for a policy drafted by school nurse Marlene Cooper which would handle the meddling mites is a step toward prevention which could mean parents and staff rest easier.
“It hasn’t been a problem here, but other schools like Bloomington have had a dickens of a problem with it,” he said. “We have decided to be proactive with these measures, and come up with a whole protocol for it.”
Those measures, introduced to Linton’s Board of School Trustees Monday evening, will be formally voted upon in December’s regular session. they contain procedures for identification, isolation, cleaning, and student services.
Among the key points proposed by Cooper:
* when a suspected bed bug’s found in school, it should be collected for identification by trained professionals using forceps and tissue to place it in a plastic bag. the bag is then placed in a freezer to kill the bug.
* Any classroom where the bug is located should be cleaned thoroughly, with any fabrics laundered properly. That means washables are soaked in hot water and dried on the highest possible setting, while delicates are soaked in warm water and laundry soap for several hours.
* Infested items which cannot be cleaned or treated with high heat above 120 Fahrenheit for several hours should instead be disposed of immediately.
* when a bed bug is discovered on a student’s clothes, the child’s parent or guardian should be notified immediately.
*There will be no need to send the student home, per the policy, but they should be offered a fresh set of clothes, shoes and backpack every day until the bed bug problem is resolved at their home.
* Clothes and gear infested with the bugs can be isolated for treatment and disposal, and the school nurse should conduct daily inspections of affected children.
* Faculty, staff and parents of all children who use the rooms where bed bugs were detected should be notified and given basic information about bed bugs. symptoms and strategies to eliminate infestations in the home. These strategies should include where to seek additional help.
* Notably, ammonia and bleach are not effective against bed bugs. Soap and water, however, is effective for their removal.
* Classrooms where a bed bug infestation is suspected should be monitored, including inspections of crevices, behind pictures, in furniture, window and door casings, on wallpaper, behind switch plates, and in telephones, radios, clocks and wall-mounted art work.
The policy notes schools aren’t ideal settings for the insects, as they prefer to hide by day and remain active by night.
Given how few people are in the school during the evenings, they have fewer choices to feed upon. however, those hungry enough have been known to feed during the daytime.
“In nearly all cases, careful inspection, vacuuming, laundering and school health professional case management will be adequate to resolve a confirmed bed bug sighting in schools without space heat or steam treatment,” per the proposed policy.
Other proposed remedies:
* Remove clutter.
* Vacuum, because it is an effective way to remove the dirt where the bugs hide.
* Inspect and monitor for the bugs constantly.
* Toss all infested clothing in a hot dryers whose temperatures exceed 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes or longer.
* Separate student backpacks and coats, beacuse most of the bugs found in school arrive with the students.
* Encourage swift reporting of bed bug sightings.
* Eliminate the places where the bugs hide by sealing cracks and crevices with silicone sealant, also sealing around utility conduits.
* have school nurses or social workers communicate with any affected families who are identified and help them end the infestations in their homes by providing them information about treatment and resources.
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