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2 cases of bedbugs found at IPS elementary school

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public Schools officials have confirmed two cases of bedbugs at Charles Warren Fairbanks Elementary School, but parents there say the school never notified them.

Parents first notified 24-Hour News 8 Friday morning, saying teachers at the school were putting their children’s backpacks and coats in plastic bags to stop the spread of bedbugs.

24-Hour News 8 contacted several parents, including one who has kept her son home from school for the past two days because of the problem. She said she was never notified of the problem, but IPS claims a note was sent home with students explaining that bedbugs had been located in the school. That mother says she will continue to keep her son home until the issue is resolved.

Local mother Morrissa Prunty’s children attend the Boys and Girls Club with students from School 105, and she said that’s how she found about the problem.

“I went to pick them up and they told us that all the kids from 105 had this issue with the bedbugs, so they had their coats and book bags and everything in a plastic bag,” Prunty said outside of School 105. “I started itching when I heard about it — it made me want to make sure that my kids didn’t have it and wash everything they had.”

IPS said a letter was sent home with students earlier this week explaining that bedbugs had been located in two cases in the school.

The district released this statement Friday afternoon:

Indianapolis Public Schools is aware of two occurrences of bed bugs found at Charles W. Fairbanks School 105. The school has thoroughly cleaned the involved classrooms following the Marion County Health Department guidelines and protocols and families have been notified. No additional bugs have been identified since that cleaning. Parents were notified. We will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.”

IPS Spokeswoman Carrie Black told 24-Hour News 8 they are going to notify the parents again — this time via email — and include a fact sheet about bedbugs.

Dan Miles, president and CEO of Total Exterminating Company in Indianapolis, said bedbugs are fairly common in elementary schools because kids tend to bring them in from home on items such as backpacks or coats. He also said parents at the school don’t need to panic.

“The possibility of getting bedbugs from another child that goes to the same school are slim to none,” Miles said. “They almost have to have contact with whatever they’re bringing in.”

Miles said bedbugs do not cause any diseases, but they can cause an allergic reaction for some people. He said if parents are paranoid about children bringing bedbugs home, there are some precautionary measures that can be taken.

“They can put the child’s backpack in a plastic bag when they come home at night, and make sure that they don’t put their backpack on the foot of their bed, or anywhere close to their bedroom. Put it in a different room,” Miles said. “That would help tremendously.”

Miles said in order to exterminate bed bugs in a house an extermination team would heat the house to 120 degrees and maintain that for four to six hours. For a school, he recommends deep cleaning and a chemical spray or dry ice treatment. If that gets right to the bugs, Miles says it’ll take just a few hours to make the area bedbug-free.