FLINT TWP. — Concern about the presence of bed bugs at Carman- Ainsworth High School has grown to the point that one student is wearing a hazmat suit to school.
Last week, Superintendent Eddie Kindle sent a letter to parents confirming that a bed bug had been found in a classroom at the high school and that the district is working with the Genesee County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Community Health to remedy the situation.
In the letter, Kindle said finding a bed bug does not mean the school building is infested, but the district always works to identify pests, have thorough inspections of schools and have licensed pest control specialists treat rooms. He said when a bug is found, it is discarded, and another inspection is done.
However, one high school freshman said he has seen the bugs every day in books, on the floors and on the walls. David Wright’s grandmother is now requiring him to wear a protective hazmat suit to school in an effort to prevent any of the pests from coming home with him. She even requires him to leave his backpack in the garage. Wright said other students bring spray bottles to school in an effort to keep the pests away.
Carman-Ainsworth has been advised not to close schools and is taking several measures to guard against the bed bugs, including:
Ongoing use of a licensed pest management professional that includes the application of pesticides.
Discretely working with students and families who are affected and helping them access community resources to treat bed bugs.
When a student has an infestation at home, it is important to be sensitive to their problem; however, they should not be excluded from school.
Cleaning rooms and areas of the building that are suspect.
Officials at Mott Community College recently removed chairs from a building on the Flint campus after they were told bedbugs were found on the furniture. Jason Wilson, the college’s vice president of student success services, said the chairs were being treated, and other furniture has been secured and isolated from use.
Earlier this year, Orkin, a national pest control company, released a list of the top 50 bed bug cities in the United States, and Flint came in at No. 47. Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist, said bed bugs are “master hitchhikers” and have nothing to do with cleanliness. They are the most common urban pest in many cities and can be found everywhere humans are, from public transit to five-star resorts.
The Orkin list includes homes and businesses and is based on data from where the company performed the most bed bug treatments from Dec. 1, 2017, though Nov. 30, 2018. Flint is one of four Michigan cities on the list, which also includes Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing.
While bed bugs are considered a public health pest, they are not known to transmit or spread disease.