Ellie posted a question on one of the FAQs, which will probably get more feedback here.
Ellie Engler, Feb 5th 2007 at 8:53 am
The United Federation of Teachers represents more than 100,000 staff working in more than 1400 buildings where there are more than 1.2 million students in school We have received many reports of bedbugs and follow the NYC Health Department Protocol, the bedbug is bagged (not easy to find them), sent to the health department for confirmation and then the Board of Education will address the problem.
This process takes time and our staff and parents are very upset. We believe that the Board of Education believes that this is not a school problem because the bugs come from home.
Ellie, you should definitely read this post I wrote, about bed bugs in the NYC schools. Bed bugs are not like lice and do not necessarily “come from home,” because they can travel in any direction. Someone brought them in to the school, but in many cases, students and staff may be taking them from school and introducing them into homes for the first time. They don’t live on people, but in a place, and it is quite common to be bitten for a long time before you ever see one.
I think the union should take a stand on this. You could probably enlist the assistance of NYC-based entomologists and perhaps some of the really good Pest Control Operators who would back you up on what a ridiculous policy it is to assume you will see bed bugs, and to assume the families are to blame. Political action may be necessary. Let us know if we can help with that effort.
The city needs to understand that bed bugs can come from home to school with anyone who enters the building (rich or poor, teacher, student, admin, visitor, or staff), or even in “stuff”. And they can go from school to home with all the same types of people.
Of course, the schools will take things seriously when some students’ families, staff, and teachers get bed bugs from school and start to sue. Few have this within their means, I know, but a class action is always a possibility. The BoE should deal with this more proactively and avoid such a situation.
Of course, the city is pretending the problem does not really exist anywhere. As I’ve said many times, they keep producing this number of 4600-some complaints between summer 2005 and summer 2006, of which 1/3 were legit bed bug cases. The owner of Pest Away, meanwhile, told the Village Voice he got 85 legitimate bed bug calls from customers per day (and 15 false alarms).
Mayor Bloomberg, are you listening?
That 85 x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year = 22,100. Perhaps my math teachers did a better job than those of the city’s officials, or perhaps they’d like to ignore the fact that one PCO is getting 22,100 calls in a year. There are hundreds of PCOs serving the 5-borough area. The city is in the midst of a genuine epidemic, and the bugs are excellent hitchhikers. Nevertheless, they are also excellent at infesting a place.
Anyone who claims they are not can explain why so many Bedbuggers have sofas that are infested. Why we have infested mattresses when we never took in a used one, and why our cars get infested if we’re not careful. Friends and relatives have become infested after we visit them for one night. Bed bugs spread easily.
It stands to reason that the schools will get bed bugs from some people and give them to many others, in the space of time it takes for a teacher to spot one, catch it, and bag it for identification.