NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The bedbug epidemic is now invading New York City schools.
Administrators say a number of schools have reported cases since the beginning of the year, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.
The Department of Education said at least 16 schools across the five boroughs have had one or more cases of bedbugs so far this school year.
P.S. 38 is one of those schools, and parents dropping their children off for class on Friday morning told CBS 2 that they were disgusted.
“I think that is horrible,” said Denikqua Berry. “It’s a disgrace.”
Another battleground in the bedbug epidemic may be the prestigious Thurgood Marshall Academy, a charter high school in Harlem. Terrence Clements is a student:
“I’m not sure what is going on right now – I just know that they will be doing some fumigating in some rooms,” student Terrence Clements, of Baychester, said. “This is the first I’ve ever been hearing about it.”
Sources told CBS 2 the school would be fumigating after classes, which means Thurgood Marshall is now facing the same problem as a number of the city’s public schools.
The New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board says the number of cases in schools has doubled each of the last two years, and is on track for a new record – well over 1,000 bedbug incidents – this year.
Bedbugs are very mobile – easily catch a ride from place to place through clothes and bags – and they’re notoriously difficult to get rid of.
“They are the hardest to get rid of,” said entomologist Paul Bello. “A lot of labor, a lot of work because of that creep factor.”
The Education Department, however, denies there’s an epidemic, and admits problems at only 16 schools. The department said that if even one bedbug is found, that becomes “a case.”
Tell that, though, to parents and students.
“I’m not going to school,” Cera Simmons, a student at P.S. 38, said.
The schools, of course, now join the ranks of a wide range of bedbug battlegrounds, including the Waldorf=Astoria hotel, movie theatres, government offices, and residents’ homes. What angers parents, though, is they say schools haven’t really kept them informed.
“I haven’t been told this. If I had been told that, I wouldn’t bring my son to school because he can contract that on his clothing and books and stuff, and bring it home,” Deanita Mato said.
School officials emphatically deny the bedbug epidemic, and point out that some of the reported cases involved only a single sighting of the creepy crawly critters. They added that they are working to eradicate the bedbugs as quickly as possibly.
As they do, parents are squeamishly demanding the school board keep them up to date on the problem.
Other schools that have reported bedbug sightings:
Ross Global Academy Charter School
Bronx Writing Academy
EBC High School For Public Service and School For International Studies