Author Archives: Debra E. Marvin

About Debra E. Marvin

Community IPM Program Assistant for Schools, Daycare and Horticulture. New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, 630 W. North Street, Geneva, NY 14456 Email: dem35@cornell.edu

National Healthy Schools Day 2020!

national healthy schools header

THE NATIONAL HEALTHY SCHOOL DAY Organization shares this: Most schools and childcares are closed. They can work NOW towards healthier facilities for all children when they re-open. National #HealthySchoolsDay is April 7 and the theme is COVID19 and the impact on children.  .

National #HealthySchoolsDay is Tuesday, April 7. “This annual day of focus on the environmental health of children and schools has never been more important and school outreach has never been more important to children and their families.” Join us this year on putting school health in the spotlight: www.NationalHealthySchoolsDay.org

During the pandemic, we thank all our schools for their new work to educate and feed children. They can also use their buildings and grounds workers to fix up the physical environment for when schools reopen. See Resources and tips at http://healthyschools.org/National-Healthy-Schools-Day/Plan-Your-Activity.

During National #HealthySchoolsDay in Public Health Week, and every week, we can all work hard to make children’s lives better. www.NationalHealthySchoolsDay.org

Worried about the COVID at school? For #HealthySchoolsDay, share our unique Resources on cleaning and disinfecting schools and childcares.  https://tinyurl.com/u4cbxfm

green cartoon banner saying we support healthy schools day

The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program of Cornell University is a Partner of the 18th annual National Healthy Schools Day 2020! Together we can make an impact and spread awareness for the importance of healthy school and childcare environment. See http://nationalhealthyschoolsday.org and register an activity today!

It is easier to work on empty buildings. While schools and childcare facilities are closed let’s get messy but important jobs done.

See Resources and tips at http://healthyschools.org/National-Healthy-Schools-Day/Plan-Your-Activity.

RECENTLY, the NYSIPM Program created three blog posts to help school administrators, building maintenance directors and staff, and custodians find resources reminding them of the importance of MONITORING, EXCLUSION and SANITATION to reduce SCHOOL PESTS.

Here are our links:

Post #1 MONITORING

photo shows someone checking an insect trap for signs of activity inside a school kitchen.

Without monitoring, schools are unable to access pest activity.

Post #2 EXCLUSION

photo of gap around pipe filled in to exclude pests

Closing gaps near utilities withe proper fill is key to keeping pests out.

Post #3 SANITATION

Photo shows metal storage shelves with proper spacing and pest-resistant storage of food items. Spacing the metal shelves in a way that allows cleaning and reduces pest habitat

Keeping stored food on well-spaced shelves, out of cardboard when possible, and in pest proof containers is key to reducing pest habitat.

WE ARE PROUD TO BE PART of the NORTHEASTERN IPM CENTER‘S School Working Group, and the BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR SCHOOL IPM WEBSITE.

photo shows a screen shot of the front page of the school best management practices website

Visit and bookmark this School IPM Best Practices website, with resources for school nurses, administrators, teachers, staff, parents, custodial and building maintenance staff, school grounds managers, athletic directors and pest management contractors.

To learn more about the great work done nationwide, follow these links:

www.HealthySchools.org   – who we are, what you can do, help for parents and others

www.CleaningforHealthySchools.org –  green and healthy products

www.NationalHealthySchoolsDay.org – since 2002, join us for the 18th annual on April 7, 2020

 

Three Timely Steps for Managing School Pests during Shutdown. #1 Monitor

While pests like bedbugs are inactive waiting out school re-openings, the old standards like cockroaches and rodents can use quiet buildings to their advantage if habitat needs are met.  Food, water and shelter are available in areas such as storage rooms, kitchens, boiler rooms and crawlspaces. If your building is currently unoccupied, pest activity can go unnoticed by staff, especially if there is a disruption in pest control operator visits.

OUR NUMBER ONE SUGGESTION NOW IS…SCOUTING. Building maintenance remains (at this time) essential work. Just like in the summer months, buildings without students allow much great opportunity for extensive scouting and cleaning.

LOOK FOR PESTS, PEST ACTIVITY and PEST ENTRY POINTS. The partial inspection list below notes areas that may not be addressed daily during the school year.  Now is the time to move large pieces of kitchen equipment in buildings no longer providing meals.

image shows three samples of pest droppings for comparison, rat, cockrock, mouse

Rat, cockroach, and mouse droppings. Can you identify? (cockroach on the right)

Our Best Management Practices for School IPM website is available to help.  For example: Resources for custodial and building maintenance staff.  We have at least forty links to online or printable resources for IPM Policies and Protocols, General IPM Resources, Indoor IPM Resources and Outdoor IPM Resources

a partial chart of things to do monthly, quarterly or annually to reduce pest problems in buildings.

Here are some videos to help you out:

Signs of rodent infestations in buildings: NYSIPM’s Dr. Matt Frye

Setting snap traps : NYSIPM’s Dr. Matt Frye

Insect monitoring: West Virginia’s IPM Minute: Sticky traps for insects

How to conduct a Pest Assessment in Schools: EPA Webinar

Inspecting a Child Care Facility – Detailed video applicable to all school buildings

photo shows water lines inside a building's utility room. Grease marks are dark and greasy trails showing where rodents travel. This also shows how water condensation provides water for pests.

Dark areas known as grease marks show consistent routes of rodents. Their greasy fur leaves a trail. Why are they here? Pests rely on water sources such as condensation.

 

Summertime (AND SCHOOL CLOSURE) means CLEANING TIME

(repost from June 2015)

We’re sharing this blog post again for its timeliness. With so many schools shut down, it’s a great time to target those hard to get to places (sanitation) and look for entry points for pests (exclusion). If your school is still actively using its cafeteria, we want to confirm how valuable those efforts are to keep students fed during these trying times. We’ll be sharing more about reducing pest problems throughout the building as well.

“Cleanliness is not next to godliness. It isn’t even in the same neighborhood. No one has ever gotten a religious experience out of removing burned-on cheese from the grill of the toaster oven.” – ― Erma Bombeck

Move equipment to make it easier to clean it as well as the floor and walls around it.

Move equipment to make it easier to clean the floor and walls around it as well as the equipment itself.

While cleanliness might not help you spiritually, we can promise that it will help you prevent pest problems in the school. There are certain tasks that should be done every day, some that can be done weekly, or even monthly, and some that should be done at least once a year. Schools vacated for the summer provide an excellent time to tackle the big jobs.

The primary idea is to remove pest habitat (food, water, shelter, and space) from buildings. This includes sealing off food, repairing water leaks, and removing shelter. Reach into the corners. Get under the sinks. Tackle molding, walls, and flooring behind and under appliances and cooking equipment. This is the time to pull out equipment and vending machines. Clean the wheels and wheel wells on carts and garbage cans. If resources allow, take the opportunity to put shelving on casters. This will make deep cleaning easier, and thus allow it to be conducted more often once school starts up again.

We can't always blame the teachers and students. This cluttered custodial closet provides pest harborage and makes inspection and cleaning difficult.

We can’t always blame the teachers and students. This cluttered custodial closet provides pest harborage and makes inspection and cleaning difficult.

What other pest projects are good for the summer? Ideally your regular inspections have helped you to produce a list of tasks to tackle. Many of these projects likely include projects that will help exclude pests from your building. They include:

  • Sealing gaps where utility lines (water pipes, electricity) enter the building and between rooms
  • Sealing all cracks and gaps in foundations, windows, door jambs and vents
  • Repairing holes or tears in window screens
  • Transplanting (or removing) plant material away from the building foundation
  • Replacing mulch next to buildings with gravel
  • Eliminating water sources such as leaking pipes, clogged drains, and missing tile grout
  • Insulating pipes that accumulate condensation (sweat)
  • Reducing clutter, cardboard, and paper that provides covers for pests

    Seal pipe chases entering buildings, between rooms, and under sinks with foam and copper mesh.

    Seal pipe chases entering buildings, between rooms, and under sinks with foam and copper mesh.

For more information, visit the School IPM Best Management Practices website. Inspection forms, pest fact sheets, IPM protocols, and links to the best and latest from IPM experts will support the novice and the seasoned IPM practitioner alike.

The EPA Clean Bill of Health: How Effective Cleaning and Maintenance Can Improve Health Outcomes in Your School webinar covers how to develop and implement a preventative maintenance plan to reduce costs and improve health by using effective cleaning practices in your school.

And don’t forget to look for burned-on cheese in the faculty lounge toaster oven.

Announcing Updates to the Northeastern IPM School Best Management Practices Website

northeastipm.org/schools//

photo shows a screen shot of the front page of the school best management practices website

Our New Look!

Back in 2013, the Northeast School IPM Working Group (NESIWG) received a Partnership Grant from the Northeastern IPM Center to develop a Best Management Practices (BMP) website.

northeastipm.org/schools//

logo of the northeastern I P M center

Reducing pest and pesticide exposure is important for children, just as it is for district staff and visitors. But schools are especially challenging to manage because they include such varied and heavily used settings such as classrooms, cafeterias, laboratories, auditoriums, theaters, playing fields, playgrounds and gardens.

photo shows signs of damaged turf on a lacrosse field due to over use

The burden of use on an athletic field. (NYSIPM photo)

With the help of many contributors, the NESIWG both created and collected resources for school IPM. We wanted to help administrators, school boards, parents, teaching and support staff, athletic directors, groundskeepers, kitchen staff and custodians how a designated pest management plan can reduce both pests and the need for pesticides. The website was a success.

By 2018, NESIWG members saw the need to update old links and fill out gaps in the content. Eager to keep the website a useful and comprehensive resource, the working group applied for and received a NEIPM Communications grant. Again using focus groups, the following changes were made:

  • a reorganization of the pest species list,
  • additional information on relevant pesticide use regulations in all Northeastern states,
  • grouping resources by stakeholder roles,
  • the addition of two new pages: Breakfast in the Classroom and Playgrounds

Additionally, the recent grant included an update of the working group’s homepage, a new ranking of regional school IPM priorities, a current membership list and an index of school IPM contacts in the Northeast.

graphic shows front of new brochure announcing the changes in the school best management practices website

Front (Outside) of Brochure

Now, with changes soon to be complete, the NESIWG welcomes your visits and assistance in sharing this helpful site. After all, finding and using the website is key!

Back of new brochure advertising the changes to the Best management practices for schools website

Back (Inside) of Brochure

PLEASE CONSIDER DOWNLOADING OUR BROCHURE, printing a few and sharing them.  OR SHARE THIS LINK.

northeastipm.org/schools//

An Update on School IPM

Recently members of the NYS IPM Program met in Albany as part of a joint meeting of the Clean, Green, and Healthy Schools Steering Committee and the Statewide School IPM Committee.

NYS IPM Educator Joellen Lampman demonstrates ‘dragging for ticks’ as a method to determine tick presence on school grounds.

Clean, Green, and Health Schools is coordinated by the NYS Department of Health and helmed by Dr. Michele Herdt. Their purpose is to promote a healthy learning and working environment in our state’s schools, both public and private.

From their page at health.ny.gov:

 

What is a School Environmental Health Program?

School environmental health is the way the physical environment of school buildings and school grounds influence the overall health and safety of occupants. School environments can impact occupant health, absenteeism, employee/student retention and satisfaction, academic performance, and operation costs for the school. Children are more vulnerable to environmental exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to their body weight, than adults, their body systems are still developing, and their behaviors put them at greater risk, such as hand-to-mouth action and playing on the ground.

Unfortunately, gaps in outside doors are a common problem in public buildings and offers easy access to rodents.

The New York State Clean, Green, and Healthy Schools Program is designed to help all school employees, volunteers, students, parents, and guardians contribute to improving their school’s environmental health. The program has been developed by a multi-disciplinary Steering Committee to help schools improve their environmental health through voluntary guidelines. Schools that participate in this program gain the opportunity and knowledge to create schools with better environmental health. The program provides information for all school occupants on policies, best practices, tools, knowledge, and resources in nine main areas:

  1. Indoor Air Quality;
  2. Energy and Resource Conservation;
  3. Integrated Pest Management;
  4. Mold and Moisture;
  5. Chemical and Environmental Hazards;
  6. Cleaning and Maintenance;
  7. Transportation;
  8. Construction/Renovation;
  9. Water Quality.

Last year, they began a free pilot program to create safer and healthier learning and working environments for all students and staff across New York State. We are looking for schools that would like to be a part of this pilot program and improve the environmental health of their school through low or no cost actions.

As of October, 2018 they have ten school buildings involved, and hope to have at least 10% of NY schools enrolled in the program by 2024.

The NYS IPM Program is glad to be part of the efforts.

Later in the morning Vickie A. Smith and David Frank from the NYS Dept. Of Education shared their work with charter schools, engaging the participants in the joint meeting with ideas on how to better reach this growing segment of education in NYS.

While we have sought to find a way to work with non-public schools in NY, charter schools are also another subset with their own particular concerns.  Like many non-publics, some charter schools operate in rented buildings (some are indeed buildings owned by a public school), and therefore it is not always clear who is responsible for environmental issues school staff face. Charter schools have multiple authorities to report to depending on their location: The NYS Board of Regents, SUNY trustees, NY City Department of Education and the Buffalo City School District. Many students in charter schools are ‘at-risk’. 80% are considered economically challenged, or have disabilities or language barriers.

Charter schools are considered public schools and must comply with many of the same rules. Our day of discussion proved there are plenty of opportunities to increase the use of IPM in all schools in NY State.

Best Management Practices website hosted by the Northeast IPM Center

Geese on school grounds has become a growing pest problem as resident geese populations increase.

Staff of the NYS IPM Program finished out the day’s meeting with a look at Don’t Get Ticked NY efforts. This included sharing the Ticks on School Grounds posters.

More information on our work with schools

For more on ticks visit our page Don’t Get Ticked New York.

Download this poster and others on reducing the risk of ticks