Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Bed Bugs in Schools
Q. Why isn't the district able to stop the bed bugs from being detected in the schools?
A. Bed bugs are brought in from our homes and there is no feasible way to stop them from being brought into the buildings in terms of a visual or other type of inspection every day when students arrive to school.
Q. Then what can we do to stop this from happening?
A. We all have to become educated about detecting bed bugs in our homes so we don't unintentionally bring them into school. This means knowing what the bugs looks like, where it's most likely to be found, and what to do when we suspect we might have them in our home.
Q. My understanding is bed bugs usually come from dirty or messy locations, correct?
A. Not true. Bed bugs can be found anywhere there is a viable food source (us, unfortunately). The perceived cleanliness of a location has little to do with the possibility of it containing/breeding bed bugs. Excessive clutter (e.g. clothing piled on the floor) is not recommended by pest management professionals as it provides the bugs with a "safe haven" as well as convenient means of transportation to other locations.
Q. My child had marks on them - could they be bed bug bites?
A. Yes - please have your child seen by the school nurse. She will determine and notify you if in fact they are bed bug bites.
Q. If my child has confirmed bed bugs bites could it have happened at school?
A. Possibly, but highly unlikely. Bed bugs are nocturnal and are most active from 11:00 PM - 2:00 AM. They are attracted by our body odor, particulalry carbon monoxide which we exhale. They also move slowly and tend to bite in multiple locations. A bedroom while sleeping are the most likely location and time to sustain bed bug bites.
Q. I told my child(ren) to leave their backpack outside overnight to let the cold kill any potential bed bugs. Is this effective?
A. No - in fact bed bugs can survive in temperatures well below 0 degrees F. What they cannot tolerate is prolonged exposure to heat. They begin to die at ~113F. The recommended exposure time and temperature to effectively kill them is 120F for 1 hour. Under these conditions they will be eliminated. For clothing this can be accomplished with a clothes dryer set at HIGH temperature for 1 hour. Please do not put school articles in a dryer (e.g.: textbooks) as this will mostly likely destroy them.
Q. Is the school using pesticides and if so, what are they?
A. Phantom Termiticide/Insecticide EPA registration # 241-392 -&- Transport Mikron Insecticide EPA registration # 8033-109-279.
Q. Why has only John Hill School had bed bugs in the past few years and not the other buildings? This means the building is the problem, correct?
A. There is nothing about the cleanliness or physical layout of John Hill School which makes it more likely to have a bed bug detection than either School Street or Boonton HS. What is different is it has the largest grade span (currently 1 - 8) and most dense student population per square foot. Because of the ~680 students in 8 grades it also has the highest concentration of siblings attending the same school. These are all contributing factors as to why it's been the school to have reported the issue.
Q. I think I may have bed bugs in my home. What should I do?
A. Call a pest management company immediately to schedule a home inspection. Western Pest in Randolph is the company the school district uses and they will inspect your home AT NO COST. Call them at 973.584.4890. Please also consider checking other residences your child(ren) may spend a significant amount of time at (e.g.: a grandparent or relative's home) if you suspect you have bed bugs in your home. Pest management professionals do NOT recommend over-the-counter sprays and treatments as they tend to repel rather than kill the bugs and effectively spread them further throughout a home or adjacent apartment.
Q. Why doesn't the district have the entire building treated for bed bugs? That would eliminate the problem once and for all!
A. This is simply not the way to the address bed bugs because we (the schools) are not the source. Treating the entire school is only going to increase everyone's exposure to chemical agents and does little if anything to eliminate the source of the pests. This is THE key to eradicating them.
Q. What else has the school district done to address the bed bug issue? I feel that there is more you should be doing to adress this.
A. In addition to obtaining over 1,000 plastic 10-gallon bags for the lower grades (they bring their coats into their classrooms), we have obtained heating devices (basically a large canvas insulated portable low temperature oven) to treat belongings located in the vicinity of a found bed bug. This was a suggestion from the pest management company. We are also adding plastic hooks in the hallways for the coats of students in afterschool programs such as HW Club and Bridges as clutter, particularly piles of clothing, must be avoided.
Q. Does the district have a policy regarding bed bugs?
A. Yes - Policy 7424
Q. Once a residence is confirmed to have bed bugs, do the child(ren) living there continue to attend school?
A. Yes, as per the Policy above they remain in school.