Bed Bugs in Schools

Protocol for Identifying and Treating Bed Bugs in Schools

Schools must electronically submit a picture of the bed bug, along with the Bed Bug Identification Submission Form, to the DOE’s Pest Management Unit for identification. The DOE will not accept mailed specimens. 

Submitting digital images of the specimen by email 

  • Schools may photograph the insects either active or dead. Do not photograph moving insects, as doing so will create blurred details. Active specimens can be slowed down by placing them in a freezer for a few minutes before taking pictures.
  • The images must be focused, sharp and detailed. Most digital cameras have limited ability to reproduce clear close-up images of small subjects, but if the camera has a “Macro” setting use it to take a close-up photograph. Use judgment on specimens and the camera’s photography capabilities. If the images are blurry or lack sufficient quality, we may not be able to identify the specimen.
  • Complete the Bed Bug Identification Submission Form and attach with at least three images of the specimen in various angles, including an image of the top/head of the insect, which is the most important angle for bed bug identification.

Bug Identification and Next Steps 

Once the DOE IPM Unit receives the images of the specimen, it will be examined and identified. The DOE IPM Unit will notify the Principal/Custodian via email with the results of the examination. If the specimen is not a bed bug, there is no need for further action. 

If specimen is confirmed to be a bed bug a DOE IPM professional will contact the Principal/Custodian to schedule a time and date for inspection and remediation, with inspections and remediation taking place after 3:00 PM. The DOE’s IPM unit will inspect the room(s) where the specimen was captured, and vacuum the room(s) with a HEPA vacuum. Please read the School Preparation Prior to Inspection and/or Treatment section.

Bed Bug Infestation

  • If a DOE IPM professional observes an infestation in the school, they will notify the school Principal/Custodian and schedule treatment, as well as additional inspections of room(s) adjacent to the room with the infestation.
  • Families of students in the entire building must be notified if there is an infestation.
  • In accordance with NYS Law the DOE IPM Unit will provide the principal with notification materials to send to parents and staff. Translation of notification are to be supplied by school.
  • According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), an infestation is identified by bed bug reproduction in a given area. During the inspection, the DOE’s IPM unit will look for bed bugs in various life stages (egg, nymph, adult). A school is infested only if there are signs of bed bug reproduction. A confirmed bed bug does NOT mean that the school is infested.

Please review the rest of this kit, which includes the Bed Bug Identification Submission Form, instructions on preparing for an inspection, tips to help minimize bed bugs in schools, a FAQ, and additional resources, including links from DOHMH and the Environmental Protection Agency

Bed Bug Identification Submission Form

School Preparation Prior to Inspection and/or Treatment

If the DOE IPM Unit has identified a bed bug from your school, please prepare for inspection and remediation by taking the following steps:

  • Carpets within affected classroom and offices should be vacuumed and loosened at their borders
  • All items attached to walls should be removed, placed in sealed plastic liners and left in the room for further inspection
  • Pets should remain in the room
  • Closets should be cleaned out and kept uncluttered
  • The floors of the classroom, and the cracks and crevices of the closets, should be vacuumed. The dust and debris from the vacuum should immediately be placed into a plastic liner and re-located to the exterior of the building. Additionally, the vacuum cleaner should be inspected and confirmed to be free of bed bugs 

If you have additional questions prior to your school’s inspection, please contact the Integrated Pest Management.

Helpful Tips to Minimize Bed Bugs in Schools

  • Reduce the amount of clutter in classrooms and closets
  • Use protective cover cases on mattresses (Life Centers, D75, Nurseries)
  • Reduce the number of rugs or discard rugs
  • Place library books in plastic liners when returned and inspect them before returning to shelves
  • Remove curtains and wall frames, if applicable
  • Repair peeling wall paper and paint
  • Use a vacuum with a crevice tool to suction in small spaces and cracks. If bed bugs are suspected place contents in plastic bag, seal and discard outside of the building
  • Use a streamer with a crevice tool in spaces and cracks
  • Apply caulk to seal crevices and joints to baseboards, gaps on shelving, cabinets and around piping

Frequently Asked Questions

If a bed bug is found on a child, should I isolate the child or send home?

No. Bed bugs are not known to cause or transmit disease and the risk of person-to-person transference in school is very low. No child should be isolated or removed from a classroom setting. It is important to remember that bed bugs can resemble other insects and that many samples submitted for identification are not bed bugs.

If we see or capture a suspected bed bug in a classroom, should we close the room until a DOE IPM Professional inspects it?

No. If it is a bed bug, it is likely that it was unknowingly brought it into the school by someone who encountered it in another place. If you have captured it, you may have already eliminated the problem. Additionally, many suspected bed bugs turn out to be falsely identified. Please send an email of the specimen to the DOE IPM Unit for identification, following the protocol described in the beginning of this kit.

If the DOE IPM Unit has identified a bed bug from our school, what area(s) of the school will be treated?

A DOE IPM Professional will inspect and, if necessary, treat the room in which the specimen was captured. In most cases, a thorough inspection and vacuuming of the room with a HEPA vacuum by a DOE IPM professional is the best treatment when there is not an infestation.

If determined that there is an infestation (bed bugs living and reproducing in the room), the rooms above, below, and adjacent to the infested room will be inspected and treated as necessary.

If the DOE IPM Unit confirms that a specimen found in my school is a bed bug, should parents and staff be notified?

A single confirmed bed bug does not constitute an infestation. According to the NYC DOHMH, an infestation is identified by bed bug reproduction in a given area. A DOE IPM professional must inspect the school and determine whether there is an infestation. Schools are not a friendly environment for bed bugs and the chance of an infestation is low. If it is determined that your school is infested, the DOE IPM Unit will provide notification materials to share with parents and building staff. Once the infestation is confirmed, parents/guardians of students in the entire building must be notified if there is an infestation. Effective July 1, 2011, a reporting requirement became New York State Law.

If the principal would like to notify parents or staff that DOE IPM has confirmed that a bed bug was found in the school (not an infestation), please use the sample letter provided, which contains important information about bed bugs.

We have captured samples of bed bugs in several rooms over the past few months; is the building infested?

According to the NYC DOHMH, an infestation is identified by bed bug reproduction in a given area. An infestation can only be determined after an inspection is conducted by a DOE IPM professional. Bed bugs are generally hitch-hikers and may be brought into the building repeatedly by anyone, including by those with bed bugs in their homes that have not been addressed.

What can we do at the school level to help reduce the risk of bed bugs?

Learn to identify the signs of bed bugs (visit the DOHMH bed bugs webpage or call 311 for additional information). Frequently inspect your rooms; if you see signs of bed bugs, report them immediately. If you capture a suspected specimen, submit it to the IPM unit following the procedures outlined in the beginning of this kit. Check furniture frequently for bed bugs, especially chairs and couches. Get rid of clutter to reduce places in which bed bugs can hide and discard anything that is not being used. Seal cracks and crevices and vacuum periodically. Consider removing rugs.

Encourage school staff and parents to learn to identify the signs of bed bugs, in school and in their own homes, by visiting the DOHMH bed bugs webpage or calling 311.

What recommendations can we provide to families to minimize or reduce the risk of bed bugs being transported into the home?

Encourage parents to learn to identify the signs of bed bugs and share the Health Department’s Stop Bed Bugs Safely fact sheet and the Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely brochure with them. Parents can inspect backpacks and personal belongings when their child returns home. They can place the child’s clothing in a dryer for 40 minutes as a precaution (high heat kills bed bugs) or store clothing in a plastic bag prior to washing. They can also call 311 for more information.

Sample Letter

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