Students and bed bugs

Students with bed bugs at home may carry them to school.

Students who are faced with bed bug infestations at home may have added stress when they go to school. In addition to the anxiety produced by having bed bugs, there is added fear that others may find out about it. Students may also come to school tired.

Michigan State University Extension emphasizes when a student is faced with an infestation at home, it is important for school staff to be sensitive to their problem. Although bed bugs have nothing to do with cleanliness or socioeconomic status, there is still a stigma that can come with having bed bugs. Consequently, parents may be reluctant to admit to having bed bugs and students may not want others to know that they have an infestation at home.

Schools should work with the parents of any students living in an infested home to develop strategies for preventing the further spread of bed bugs. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Determine if the infested home is being treated. Home remedies and do-it-yourself treatments are usually insufficient and may cause negative health effects or produce potential hazards in the home.
  2. If parents lack the financial resources to hire a pest management professional, they can find online resources through the Michigan Department of Community Health or MSU Extension.
  3. In an infested home, parents should store their children’s freshly laundered clothing in sealed plastic bags until they are put on in the morning. This prevents bed bugs from hiding in the clothing and being carried to school.
  4. Backpacks, lunchboxes and other items that travel back and forth to school should also be inspected daily. They should be stored in sealed plastic containers at home to prevent bed bugs from getting into them.
  5. At school students may be provided with plastic bags or bins in which to store their belongings. This will prevent any bed bugs from spreading to other students’ belongings.
  6. If bed bugs are finding their way into the school, administration may want to consider notifying the affected classes by letter. The Michigan Department of Community Health has a sample letter that schools may choose to use.

Schools will want to continue to use these measures until they can verify that the home has been successfully treated.

MSU Extension has partnered with the Michigan Department of Community Health to address the issue of bed bugs. For information on how to prevent or treat bed bug infestations, visit the Michigan Department of Community Health website.

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