HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Small pests are causing some big problems for a Rockland County elementary school.
Before the new school year even starts, students are being temporarily pushed out by raccoons and fleas, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reports.READ MORE: Teens, 17 And 19, Killed In West Hempstead Crash
Fourth grader Sheilyn Diaz just found out Friday that instead of starting class at Haverstraw Elementary School on Tuesday, she and 622 students will have to go to another school, at least for now.
“I’ll be scared, nervous,” she said.
The problem was caused by a pesky raccoon that sneaked inside the school and infested it with fleas.
“We received a notice from the employees that had been working here … that they had been bitten,” Ileana Eckert, school superintendent, said. “That same week, we heard that there were scratching sounds that the employees had heard coming from the ceiling on the first floor.”
The school district hired a pest control company that set traps in the ceiling and caught a mother raccoon. They later caught two baby raccoons.
Catching the fleas wasn’t so easy, however. They had already spread through the building.READ MORE: New Surveillance Video Shows Suspect Who Allegedly Shot Teen Getting On City Bus In Harlem
“I wouldn’t think it would be safe for the kids, so I feel like they would have to move some kids away from that,” resident Laura Lopez said.
That’s exactly what school officials are doing.
Students will be bused to North Rockland High School on their first day and then spend at least the next week at two other area schools.
To make the first week transition as smooth as possible, school officials will still provide free breakfast and lunch for all students, but they’re telling kids to leave their backpacks at home.
“We don’t want them to bring all of those backpacks with lots of supplies to another building then having to transport those to this building,” principal Benito Herrero said. “Sometimes these things are annoying. That’s why they are called pests.”
The school principal says once the building has been cleaned, teachers and students can come back to class rodent- and flea-free.MORE NEWS: NYPD: 85-Year-Old Man Attacked & Robbed Outside Bronx Home
School officials say they had to cut into the school’s ceiling to capture the raccoons, but to do that, they had to undergo a precautionary asbestos procedure, so the whole cleanup process has taken several weeks.