Two Washington D.C. Public Schools closed last week after bedbug infestations forced school officials to cancel classes or move students to other facilities.
DCPS officials found bedbugs at both Myrtilla Miner Elementary School in Northeast Washington and Savoy Elementary School in Anacostia.
At Savoy, the school was closed Feb. 6 to clean the facilities and replace all infested rugs, cots, blankets and pillows in the building.
According to The Washington Post, students missed classes for two days before temporarily attending classes at Ferebee-Hope Elementary School.
DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson sent a letter to Savoy Elementary School parents Feb. 3 assuring them the school would be cleaned and that DCPS was working to address the infestation.
“At Savoy Elementary School, we are committed to ensuring all students and staff are safe, and that the school environment is conducive to learning,” Wilson wrote in the letter.
At Miner, teachers found bedbugs on students’ clothing Feb. 9, 14 and 15, though school has still not been cancelled.
Miner Principal Andrea Mial said in a letter sent to parents Wednesday that the school was working to ensure the safety of students and staff.
“Here at Miner Elementary School, it is my priority to ensure that all students and staff are safe and the school environment is conducive to teaching and learning,” Mial wrote.
According to Orkin, a pest control and exterminator services, the District and Baltimore ranked first and second, respectively, as the top cities for bedbugs in 2016. The company ranked cities around the country based on the number of treatments for bedbugs conducted between December 2015 and Nov. 30, 2016. The report included both commercial and residential properties.
D.C. rose to second place from its third place ranking last year.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, bedbugs have developed a resistance to many pesticides.
District Department of Health spokesperson Jasmine Gossett said though the department provides District residents with information about bedbug infestations, they have no centralized services dedicated to helping combat infestation because they do not spread disease.
Gossett said bedbugs spread around rapidly, as they hitchhike on their human hosts to new destinations where they hide away until ready to feed again.
National Pest Management Association spokesperson Cindy Mannes said college campuses can be especially vulnerable to bedbug outbreaks, as they spread where people live in close proximity and share clothing, blankets and other fabrics.
“College dorms are a place where we find bedbugs,” Mannes said. “They multiply very quickly and are great hitchhikers, so if they are in one dorm room and they go on someone’s clothing, they can end up in another room as well.”
Mannes suggested that students not purchase secondhand furniture or mattresses to stop the spread of bedbugs.
Ed Koh (NHS ’19) said he was surprised to hear about the growing rates of bedbugs in the District, having bought and used secondhand furniture in his dorm room.
“My experience has been fine so far, but I guess if you’re going to buy and use secondhand stuff, you should be aware of the risks,” Koh said.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.