Raccoons, fleas prompt Rockland school to relocate 1st week of classes

HAVERSTRAW, Rockland County (WABC) -- A New York school district is relocating classes for the first week of school after raccoons and fleas were found living in the building.

Officials with the North Rockland School District say Haverstraw Elementary is currently unusable due to the infestation and that treatment of the affected areas has precluded administrators and teachers from entering the building.

In order to thoroughly clean the school and prepare classrooms for students, they say it is necessary to temporarily relocate all of Haverstraw Elementary School starting Tuesday, September 3.

Officials sent a letter to parents saying the district's pest management contractor successfully trapped a raccoon on Sunday that had found its way into the building, and that in the three days since the animal's removal, the custodial staff continued to discover fleas in several small areas of the school, prompting the need for additional traps.

Two additional raccoons were captured inside the school Thursday, which officials hope will alleviate the flea problem as well.

"We are confident now that all the animals that have been using us as a hotel are gone," Eckert said. "(We) have been treating the building aggressively within the standards we are permitted to do. We even reached out to a second pest company just to see that we were not missing anything."

Officials say all students will be transported via regular bus routes to North Rockland High School in Thiells for Opening Day activities, while students who walk are advised to report to Haverstraw Elementary to board buses to the high school.

At dismissal, walkers will be returned Haverstraw Elementary, from where they can walk home. Bus riders will be transported from the high school directly to their regular bus stops.

Wednesday, September 4 - Friday, September 6:

Morning procedures: All students will arrive at Haverstraw Elementary School by their regular mode of transportation and will be reorganized outside the building to report to their temporary sites in the following manner:

--Grade 4 will walk to St. Peter's School with their classroom teacher, which is located one block from HES. St. Peter's address is 21 Ridge Street, Haverstraw, New York.

--Grade 5 and 6 will re-board buses to Farley Elementary School within our district. Farley's address is 140 Route 210, Stony Point, New York.

Dismissal procedures: All students will return to Haverstraw Elementary in the afternoon to board their regular buses for pickup by families, or to walk home.

Officials say transportation will not be affected by the change in location, and that all students who normally walk will report to the elementary school field for supervised transportation to the appropriate location.

"Our North Rockland Central School District custodial team will continue to work with our pest management vendor to ensure that the building is safe for students and staff," Superintendent Ileana Eckert said in the letter. "I will provide additional updates on the status of the school early next week. Rest assured that we will not open the building until it is deemed safe."

Any family that needs additional information is asked to contact the school at (845) 942-3400 and follow automated prompts.

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