Bedbugs Now Invading NYC Classrooms at an Alarming Rate


bedbugs-schoolBedbugs are creeping their way into NYC classrooms in record numbers. As the city sees a surge in the itsy-bitsy pests, schools are experiencing a spike in confirmed cases Р336 in the first two months of this school year compared with 135 in the same stretch last year.

That’s on track to surpass last year’s record of 1,019 cases.

“I think it’s an epidemic. Bedbugs are everywhere,” said Anna Shter, 37, whose son is a kindergartner at Brooklyn’s Public School 200, where bedbugs were discovered twice in the last month.

Brianna Simmons, 10, a fifth-grader at the school, reacted with surprise when she learned of the problem from officials, she recalled.

“I was, like, ‘OMG, there’s bedbugs in the school,'” she said.

Education Department officials would not provide a list of all schools affected by bedbugs, stressing that a confirmed case can be the discovery of a single bug.

They insist there isn’t an epidemic since schools have few beds and, therefore, have not become breeding grounds.

“We do not have infestations,” spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said, noting the numbers reflect schools following reporting procedures. “Schools are required to report specimens.”

Still, the number of cases in schools has been ballooning for years. A 2010 report by the New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board said there were 426 cases during the 2008-2009 school year, double the number of the previous year.

The number more than doubled again to 1,019 in the 2009-2010 school year.

To prevent the spread at some affected schools, students and teachers are putting coats and bookbags into plastic containers and bags, a procedure adopted at PS 197 in Midwood, Brooklyn.

Four classrooms were fumigated there early this year, said teachers, who argued the cure was nearly as bad as the problem. A messy fumigation destroyed supplies and books, one teacher said.

The Education Department is investigating, but confirmed three dates on which at least one bedbug was found at PS 197 and Middle School 381.

“Knowing what a bedbug can do, it’s devastating,” said gym teacher Lucille Mauro, who is also the PS 197 union chapter leader. “We have friends and teachers who have had this in the home, and it has cost them thousands of dollars.”

While officials declined to provide a full list of schools, they confirmed there had been at least one case at 16 schools this year.

In Manhattan, PS 30, PS 38, PS 175 and Ross Global Academy Charter School have had cases.

In Queens, PS 152 had a case, as did the Bronx Writing Academy and PS 721 at Monroe High School in the Bronx.

And in Brooklyn, PS 54, PS 217, PS 244, PS 373, Clara Barton, EBC Public Service and School for International Studies all had cases.

“(It’s) just a little nervewracking,” said Tony Simmons, 42, Brianna’s dad. “You don’t want to come home and have all these things in the house.”

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}