The first bed bug was discovered by a teacher last Thursday. Since then the school has been taking steps to eliminate the problem. The school does remain open, but is giving excused absences to students who are being kept home."I don't need bed bugs in my house," said Lisa Demos, who kept her son out of school.
Lisa Demos is not alone in her thinking. Out of a student body of nearly 1,200 at Glen Ellyn's Hadley Junior High, some 230 students-- that's one in six-- stayed home Monday and Tuesday upon hearing the news that bed bugs were found inside the school last week.
"She came home on Friday and said, 'Mom, we found a bug in our classroom and we had to take it to the nurse to see if it was a bed bug,'" said Carollee Buechner, who kept her daughter out of school.
Well, it was a bed bug. The school district immediately brought in, not one, but two pest control companies who declared the school had a low-level infestation.
"We only found two live bed bugs, others had carcasses or feces . . . We treated six classrooms, the library, the learning spaces around the library as well," said Supt. Dr. Paul Gordon, Glen Ellyn School District 41.
But while the affected areas have been treated, the extermination is not complete. The school is currently in the process of getting rid of rugs, pillows, blankets-- anywhere these bugs might hide. And they've asked the students to empty their lockers so they may be treated as well. Sixth grader Bryan Wilken is one of the students being kept out of school this week.
"They said we're going to bring home all of our school supplies and we're gonna bring home our locks so they can spray the whole school down. They're giving us bags to put our gym uniforms in," said Bryan Wilken, 6th grader.
There is, of course, no way to know how the bed bugs got into the school. Just this past January, Orkin ranked Chicago the No. 1 city for bed bug treatments in the nation. School superintendent Paul Gordon on Tuesday tried to calm parents' fears.
"We believe the school is safe. We're trying to ensure that the parents to have the most accurate information about bedbugs," said Supt. Gordon.
Once the de-cluttering process is complete, exterminators will come back in to go through the entire school on Saturday. One of the ways to kill bed bugs is with extreme heat, so the school is asking parents to put their kids' gym clothes in the dryer for 20 minutes on high, wash them, then put them in the dryer again before bringing them back to school.