The NCSU School IPM Program has recently developed a suggested protocol for bed bugs found in North Carolina schools. These guidelines have been developed to help NC school systems to become more aware of the problem and to be prepared to deal with situations where a suspected bed bug is found on school premises and/or on an individual (child, staff or visitor) or his/her belongings.
Below is a summary of the suggested protocol for bed bugs found in schools. Please visit http://schoolipm.ncsu.edu and click on “Bed Bug Protocol for Schools” to see the complete protocol, which includes a sample parent notification letter as well as bed bug fact sheets.
In the event that bed bugs (or what is presumed to be bed bugs) are found in a school building, the priority should be to address the situation as quickly as possible while minimizing disruption to the learning environment. Always avoid bringing undue attention to any individuals directly involved. The individual does not need to be removed from the classroom/office unless it facilitates the inspection. If the situation involves a student, inform the parents as soon as possible. The child does not need to be excluded from school.
First, verify that the problem is due to bed bugs. Several insect pests may be confused with bed bugs, such as bat bugs, swallow bugs, and carpet beetle larvae. Reports of bites should be taken seriously, but bites alone are not enough to declare that there is a bed bug infestation. Second, determine the extent of any infestation in the school facility. Third, attempt to determine whether the current finding suggests that the school has an infestation or if the problem is associated with one individual (or group of individuals) who may have accidentally brought the insects to school. Next, take appropriate control measures bearing in mind the safety of all. Finally, educate parents and staff as to precautions they can take to reduce the likelihood of accidentally moving bed bugs between school and their homes.
Bed bug treatments, as with any pest control procedures, should follow the school’s IPM policies as closely as possible. The IPM Coordinator or a designate should contact the school’s pest control service (contracted or in-house). In-house pest control services should be used only if the employees have adequate training and knowledge of bed bug control. Otherwise, the school should contract the services of a licensed pest control company if a bed bug treatment is deemed necessary.