"Night-night. Don't let the bedbugs bite." That's what parents in New York used to say to their kids. But due to recent events, they may have to change that to, "Have fun at school. Don't let the bedbugs bite."
According to a recent article in the New York Times, bedbugs, are no longer relegated to household bedrooms or hotels. They have found their way into the city's schools.
New York's Education Department record show there were 1,019 confirmed cases of bedbugs in the 2009-10 school year — an 88 percent increase from the previous school year. And since the city started counting 311 calls (the city's non-emergency hotline) related to bedbugs, in March, operators have received 121 calls about bedbugs in schools. So far this month, 311 operators have received 22 calls about bedbugs in schools, since classes started just a few weeks ago on Sept. 8. But it's unclear (and city officials were unwilling to comment) on whether or not bedbug incidents have also been reported by other means.
One school that has had bedbugs problems is the Brooklyn Transition Center, a public high school in Bedford-Stuyvesant where middle-school students from the Beginning with Children Charter School also study. According to the Times article there have been multiple instances of bedbugs at the school since the beginning of the school year.
Bedbugs are similar to lice in that they feed on humans, but do not typically transmit disease. But unlike lice, bedbugs are most active at night, so school classrooms are not the most ideal breeding environments. Still, classrooms could be serving as a transportation hub to and from homes, serving to further spread the bugs' resurgence in the city.
And according to the city's Education Department spokeswoman, Marge Feinburg, it could get worse in the winter months ahead as bedbugs catch a ride to school on heavy clothing, like jackets.