Pinelands School District Implementing Bed Bug Policy

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Sep 26, 2017
Source: WebMD Bed bug bites

The New Jersey Department of Education has developed guidelines for school districts on how to deal with bed bugs. And you thought the problem was limited to motels, hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and private homes.

The Pinelands Regional Board of Education approved the first reading of a new bed bug policy at its Sept. 20 meeting.

 The policy is not in response to a bedbug problem at one of the district’s schools. There has been no such incident, according to Interim Superintendent Maryann Banks.

“No issues here,” she responded. “(It was) mandated policy from DOE – every time there is a change in statute we get them, lots during the course of the year.”

“The Board of Education is concerned for students who may have bed bugs in their home with the potential for these students to bring bed bugs into the school building,” the new policy starts. “Bed bugs can be transmitted from one location to another in backpacks, clothing, books and other items. A bed bug infestation is unlikely in a school and the Board adopts this Policy as a proactive action to prevent infestation and to stop bed bugs from spreading within the school setting if a bed bug is transmitted into a school.”

The policy also notes that “bed bugs typically do not infest people as they hide during the day and come out at night.”

The procedures laid out by the policy direct staff members who observe what may be bed bug bites (red, itchy bites that usually follow a straight line and usually are found on the arms and shoulders) or the presence of bed bugs on a student or in the student’s possessions to send the student to the school nurse. The school nurse will inspect the student and their possessions. If they do not have bugs or bites the student will be returned to class.

But if bugs or bites are found the principal or a designee will be alerted and the principal or designee will arrange for a licensed person to complete an inspection of the student’s classroom(s) by a licensed pet management professional. If such a pro cannot complete the inspection within 24 hours the district custodial staff will vacuum the student’s classroom(s) “with a vacuum cleaner using a new vacuum cleaner bag,” which must be sealed and discarded in a receptacle outside the school building. The vacuum will then be treated.

Meanwhile, the school nurse will contact the student’s parent. He or she will have to arrange for the pickup of the student who will be required to return home and change clothes. The parent will also have to inspect any possessions the student brings to school. The school nurse may provide the parent with information regarding bed bugs.

When the student returns to school the school nurse will conduct another inspection. If nothing is found the student will go back to his or her classes. If live bed bugs are still found on the student or in the student’s possessions the parent will receive another call and the whole process will start again.

The principal, in consultation with the school nurse, will determine if the parents of other students should be informed if bed bugs are found in any area of the school. The determination will be made on a case-by-case basis. But parents of other students need not be informed if bed bugs are found on a student or on the student’s possessions but are not found in the school building.

The entire process sounds like the one that used to be followed by many school districts throughout the country regarding head lice, which once included the dreaded and potentially embarrassing “cootie bug” inspection. Indeed, the Pinelands Regional School District has a head lice policy that says that “a student who is found to have active head lice will not be permitted to attend school until there are no active lice in the student’s hair, proof of treatment has been provided to the nurse, and until all live and/or dead head lice are removed from the student’s hair as confirmed by an examination by the school nurse.”

The policy also states, “When a case of active head lice has been identified by the school nurse, the school nurse shall perform a head check on any of the infested student’s siblings in the school (if siblings attend other schools in the district the school nurse in the sibling’s school may conduct the head check).” And, “In addition, anytime the school nurse has identified active head lice, the school nurse many conduct a head check of other students in the school who are most likely to have had head-to-head contact with the infested child. All other students to be checked shall be identified by the school nurse in consultation with the school administration. Parental approval shall be obtained by the Principal or designee or school nurse.”

The Pinelands policy on head lice also gives the school nurse authority to possibly send a child having active head lice home on the day of discovery.

That policy clashes with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control:

“Students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day, be treated, and return to class after appropriate treatment has begun. Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.”

— Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

 

 

 

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