NEW YORK (CBS 2) – New York City public schools are joining the growing list of places that have been infested with bed bugs. Now, leading bed bug experts are being called in to help.
PS 87 on the Upper West Side was the latest battleground as parents received a note last week warning them that a single bed bug was found in the gym. They were far from happy to hear that and some were beginning to take issue with how the school is handling the problem.
A bed bug conference was scheduled for Thursday morning at the Real Estate Board of New York, where leading bed bug experts will address the growing problem.
Bed bugs have been spotted at more than 16 schools so far this school year alone, but teachers and staffers can’t just report a sighting. They have to collect the dead bug and send it to the Department of Education, then it can take days or sometimes even more than a week before an exterminator comes out to check out the problem.
Bed bug cases have nearly tripled in the first two months of school and are on track to surpass even that by the end of the school year.
All this comes as budget cuts have forced schools to cut pest control agents by 75-percent and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the combination was creating an epidemic.
“We should learn by these mistakes and not allow our children to be eaten alive by bed bugs because we’re not acting quick enough, and I think we’ve got to have a real war and finish this job and get rid of these bed bugs in the public schools,” said Stringer.
The Department of Education denied an epidemic and defended its policy, saying the bed bug specimens must be provided before they spend a lot of taxpayer money to exterminate them.