Due to the coronavirus pandemic, in-person classes ended abruptly for most schools across the country without any indication as to when they would resume, giving students and faculty little time to vacate the premises and prepare the building for an extended vacancy. Without the typical end-of-year “clean out” these facilities require, certain items left behind could spur a serious issue when they re-open— pest infestations.
With the changes in human behavior in response to nationwide stay-at-home orders, many pest’s usual food sources, including dumpsters and garbage cans, were empty, forcing them to become more resourceful in order to survive. From snacks left in lockers to hasty cleaning, fumigation, and storage efforts in cafeterias and classrooms, seemingly innocuous items had the chance to spoil, making schools a prime target for dangerous pests such as rats, cockroaches, and ants.
In addition to working with a licensed fumigation company, there are additional steps facility management teams can take to help prevent an infestation:
With schools laying vacant for months until 2021, it is crucial facility management address potential pest control problems now in order to stave off an infestation at the start of the upcoming school year. The first step in readying a facility for re-occupancy is to partner with a licensed fumigation company to help implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan specific to the building. Utilizing a three-part practice consisting of inspection, identification, and treatment, pest professionals will assess the facility, pinpoint and address any problem areas, helping to protect students, teachers, and the property itself from the diseases and damage caused by pests.
- When classes do finally resume, it is imperative facility management also educate faculty and students on best practices for preventing infestations. Pest prevention in schools is a collaborative effort for all involved, and only by working together can schools ensure the safety of everyone when the time comes to reopen. Keep food sealed and stored properly, particularly in facility kitchens and cafeterias.
- Clean high-volume areas such as cafeterias and gymnasiums daily where crumbs and trash are more likely to build up.
- Dispose of garbage regularly and store in sealed receptacles.
- Look for droppings or gnaw marks near food sources, as these could indicate a rodent problem.
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the school using an appropriate sealant, paying special attention to entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well-trimmed and away from the building.
- Keep basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Repair decaying exterior wood on buildings as some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
- Don’t overlook proper drainage at the foundation; install a drainage system, which will channel water away from the building.