Recently, I have received several calls regarding concerns of bed bugs in Madison schools. Let me be the first to assure you that there is not any evidence that there are bed bugs residing in any USD #386 facility. USD #386 Madison-Virgil is dedicated to providing a healthy and safe environment for all students. The issue of bed bugs in school can be emotional and generate anxiety in parents, students, and school staff. Bed bugs can be found and transferred in hotels (cheap and expensive), homes, vehicles, office buildings, and schools. Literature provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding bed bugs in schools warns against the following:
Bed bug infestations in schools are very rare. The reality is that like lice, colds, MRSA, etc. students can bring these things with them when they come to school. USD #386 has specific plans and protocols for dealing with lice, colds, MRSA, bed bugs, etc. In regards to bed bugs, our protocols and practices are comprehensive, proactive, focus on prevention, and dealing with bed bugs found on students. While bed bugs found on a student does not constitute an infestation, we take any bed bug sighting (confirmed or unconfirmed) very seriously.
USD #386 has our facilities sprayed for a variety of bugs on a monthly basis. Additionally, classrooms are cleaned daily, clutter is limited, and upholstered furniture is discouraged. In accordance with EPA guidance, should a bed bug be found (and identified) on a student the following occurs:
The EPA guidance also warns the following should not occur:
The EPA stresses the importance of “remaining calm and preventing bed bug hysteria”. Similar to how lice are handled, letters are not sent home with all students regarding a single bed bug report. However, if lice or bed bugs were to be found on several students in the same class or location, a letter notifying parents is sent home. If there were ever evidence to suggest bed bugs were housed in USD #386 facilities, parents would be notified immediately, and professionals would be called in to eradicate the bed bugs immediately. It is important to note that there have not been any confirmed sightings this year. When a confirmed sighting has occurred, it has been an isolated incident involving an individual student.
Last spring a student reported finding a bed bug on them while sitting on a couch. While the bug was not officially identified, out of an abundance of caution, the couch was removed and inspected. There were not any bed bugs or evidence of bed bugs found on the couch, but the couch was not returned to the classroom (again, out of abundance of caution). I share this as an example of the great precautions and lengths that we go to ensure that we maintain an environment that is not attractive to bed bugs. However, the fact remains that like lice, colds, MRSA, etc. bed bugs can still travel into the school on a student, coat, backpack, etc. This is substantially different though from bed bugs residing within district facilities.
In dealing with any medical issue, including bed bugs, student confidentiality is imperative. If a family were to have bed bugs in their home, it is their responsibility to take the necessary steps to have them removed. Previously, I have contacted the health department and regularly correspond with our school nurse to gain resources that we can share with parents who may have bed bugs in their home and also to ensure that we are taking all the appropriate steps regarding bed bugs.
Lastly, like head lice, bed bugs are not a sanitary issue -- they can happen to anyone. I certainly understand the emotion and anxiety that comes with the threat of bed bugs. However, it is important that we all remain calm and deal with facts when addressing bed bugs, lice, or any health issue. I want to assure you that we remain dedicated to providing a healthy and safe environment for all students and staff. Additional resources and information regarding bed bugs can be found on the school website under the tab “Parent Resources—Health Information”.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Have a great week! It’s A Great Day to Be a Bulldog!