Bed Bugs Continue To Bedevil Harrisburg School District
Friday, March 23, 2012
An infestation of bedbugs at an area school is continuing to
bedevil Harrisburg School Districtadministrators.
For the last several weeks, the district has been battling
the insects at Camp Curtin Elementary.
"We have been doing everything we can to get rid of them," said
Sybil Knight-Burney, district superintendent. "But what we can't
control is people bringing them in."
Knight-Burney said the school has torn out carpets in the affected
classrooms, has been bagging children's coats and spraying a
non-toxic dust to try and contain and control the insects.
However, because the tiny bugs are present in the homes of some
children, the district cannot totally prevent them from traveling
back and forth.
The school has been reaching out to families who have the bugs in
their homes, to provide what assistance it can - mostly
However, because bedbugs are not considered dangerous pests, the
district cannot force children to stay home if the bugs are found
in their homes.
"Every child has a right to come to school," Knight-Burney said.
"We don't want anyone to be denied an education."
There are no statistics on how often these types of
situations occur because the state Department of Health does not
track bedbug infestations. Nor does it inspect for them. Because
they do not spread disease, the insects are considered more of a
pest than a health hazard.
The ongoing situation is causing some parents to become upset with
what they perceive as a lack of action by the district.
Elizabeth Garcia, who has four children in the school, said she
was "very upset" that the bedbugs have not been taken care
"It's scary," she said. "It makes me not want to send my kids to
In the meantime, the district has hired an exterminator, who was
inspecting Camp Curtin on Thursday.
The exterminator will then recommend a course of action to the
district which will be acted upon, she said.
Knight-Burney said she was hopeful that work - whatever it entails
- could begin as quickly as this weekend.
"Closing the schools is not going to stop the bugs," she said. "I
apologize for any of the inconveniences families ... and our staff
have to go through."
Dealing with bed bugs:
- Vacuum mattresses, carpets, floors and small crevices. Dispose
of the vacuum cleaner bag by encasing it in plastic and immediately
disposing it in an outside garbage can.
- Seal mattresses and box springs in impermeable plastic or vinyl
- Wash and dry all clothing and linens in high heat, or have it
- Eliminate clutter and dispose of items that cannot be cleaned.
Seal cracks and remove loose wallpaper.
- Choose pest removal companies that have extensive experience
- Avoid using pesticide foggers or bombs.
- Destroy or post warnings on discarded furniture or other