There was a Parent Community Information Session on December 14th at Boonton HS' auditorium which ~40 people attended. In addition to the Superintendent, there were two representatives from the district's Pest Management company and 2 officers from the local Health Department.
These are points recorded by a parent in attendance who was kind enough to allow us to share them:
- There is no infestation in the school.
- Bed bugs are a nuisance and do not carry diseases.
- Bed bugs have a life span of up to 10 months in their ideal conditions.
- You would have to have a pregnant female to start an infestation and these odds are very low.
- Treatments do not cost thousands of dollars as people have been saying. They do free inspections and costs, in most cases, are below 1K for treatments if necessary. There are also charitable organizations that work with the company to help with costs when needed.
- These bugs are hitchhiking a ride in from families homes, so the school is forced to focus on the "symptoms" and not the "cause"
- When a bed bug is found, the school immediately addresses the issue and calls Western Pest control to schedule an inspection/treatment and all families are emailed of the instance. There was a suggestion to also send home paper announcements in case some families are not checking emails.
- The treatments are secluded to the area where the bed bug was found. They apply the treatment to the crevices in the area and do not apply sweepingly all over the floor. This is because bed bugs like to be enclosed and surrounded.
- The treatment is water based and not harmful to the kids.
- It is not necessary for families to go through any rituals when their kids come home (washing clothes, spraying alcohol, etc). The Western Pest guy stated he has been in this business for 35 years and wears regular clothes when treating home/facilities and has NEVER brought a bed bug home. He mentioned he has children and grandchildren so he understands the concern but would not make that statement lightly if he didn't stand by it. There is a very "minuscule" chance that a child will bring home a bed bug.
- Even still, the school is mitigating any spread of the issue by ensuring in all cases and activities that the children are placing their belongings in bags or in lockers at all times and not piling them up on the floor next to each other.
- They seem to have pinpointed the family (or families) who are bringing in the bed bugs. They have been working with them on a daily basis to walk them through the process but essentially cannot FORCE the families to agree to the treatment.
- The families appear to be trying over the counter methods as well as holistic approaches. These do not work and essentially just cause the bed bugs to retreat towards the perimeter of the room and find another place to nestle up.
- The school cannot by law keep these children from coming to school.
- The school has bought these "ovens", as they call them, where they have permission from these families to "bake" the children's belongings as soon as they get to school in order to kill any bed bugs before they start their day.