March 31, 2011
Teachers who are concerned about bedbugs in their schools have a new way to seek relief.
The Department of Education has set up a new email address —email@example.com — to receive complaints about bedbugs in city schools. School officials can also send photographic evidence of suspected bedbugs to the address so the department can identify, and try to end, infestations.
The new procedure was made public today by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who is counting the address’s creation as a personal victory. Stringer asked the city last year to let school personnel submit bedbug evidence by email, according to a press release from his office. Until now, school officials had to send physical specimens by mail to a department office in Queens in order to initiate treatment, according to Stringer’s announcement, a process that cost precious time in the fight against the invaders.
The city has long maintained that bedbugs are not a major problem for schools, but parents and school personnel continue to complain about the pests — often without getting a response.
“Several teachers in my school have found bedbugs in their classrooms. At least one has given a bedbug sample to the principal. A student even complained of being bit by bedbugs in the classroom,” a teacher wrote to GothamSchools today. “My principal is not remotely interested in the issue and does not respond to staff emails about our concerns. What can we do?”
One caution: The collateral damage of waging war against bedbugs can be costly for schools. After four classrooms at Brooklyn’s PS 107 were damaged during bedbug fumigation last fall, teachers had to hold a car wash to replace supplies.
Here’s the complete press release from Stringer’s office:
BOROUGH PRESIDENT STRINGER HAILS IMPORTANT VICTORY IN BATTLE TO RID NYC PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF BEDBUGS
Hailing “an important victory” in the battle to rid New York’s public schools of bed bugs, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer on Thursday congratulated the Department of Education (DOE) for agreeing to his suggestion that school officials should be able to email evidence of bed bugs to DOE for a rapid identification and response—instead of mailing them and waiting days for an answer.
“Bed bugs have no place in our classrooms, and that’s why I asked the city back in November to speed up the process by which school officials alert DOE to infestations,” Stringer said. “Although I’m concerned that it took this long to adopt a common-sense procedure, I’m glad to have played a role in bringing about a needed change.”
Although DOE did not publicly respond to the Borough President’s request last year for a speedier procedure, the new guidelines were recently distributed to principals. School officials now have the option of emailing photographs of a suspected pest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Earlier, the Borough President noted, they were required to capture a specimen, position it in a plastic bag, seal the bag, secure it with tape and send the specimen through the U.S. mail to DOE in Long Island, City. Only then, after an identification process that could take days, would the DOE respond.
“Anyone who has ever discovered bed bugs in their home—or suspects they are present—would never stand for such a slow-moving reaction,” Stringer said. “We still have to combat this problem wherever it surfaces in our schools, but at least now parents, teachers and administrators can get a more instant response. The longer we have to wait for DOE to respond, the more difficult and costly an infestation will be to control.”