Tag Archives: Healthy Schools

School IPM 2020 Conference

When it comes to student learning and achievement, the physical environment is a full partner.” – Dr. Lorraine Maxwell, Cornell University A picture of a school with a banner that says "School is Open Humans Only" with a bedbug, cockroach, tick looking at the sign. The tick is holding a mouse pull toy and the cockroach is holding a coronavirus shaped balloon. Includes the logos for NYSIPM, Cornell AgriTech, and USDA: NIFA

Another annual NYSIPM Conference is in the books and it was certainly different from what we imagined when we started planning last year. Covid-19 caused us to move the in-person gathering from April to a virtual conference in August. (Silver lining: it turns out virtual conferences are easier to get online than those we record with a video camera. You can now view the conference presentations from our YouTube channel.)  The virus also both supported and distracted from our main goal of discussing school pest issues that need community interventions to address.

As I discussed in my July post, Back to School – Humans Only!, Covid-19 is an excellent example of an issue that cannot be handled by school personnel alone. We have all been called to support the openings of schools through practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and handwashing whenever we leave our homes. As we looked at pest issues with similar community connections, examples included pests like bed bugs coming into schools on backpacks, but also wheelchairs and cockroaches coming in supplies and food packaging. Increasing communication and engaging collaborators that can help address these issues in the community preventing the introduction of pests into schools were brought up repeatedly. You can view that discussion here. Drs. Dina Fonseca and Paul Curtis also provided us with excellent examples of community members working together to manage mosquitoes and deer.

Besides influencing our conference, how else will Covid-19 impact schools from an IPM perspective? A few virus mitigation practices have direct impact on pests.

Reduced clutter

Photo of slide from conference: "Summary – NYC study Students’ perception of the school’s social learning environment is, in part, shaped by the physical quality of the school building. The social learning environment affects student attendance and subsequently academic achievement. Demographic factors play a role but school building quality remains an important contributing factor to the learning environment."

School building conditions matter in learning outcomes.

To decrease items that need to be regularly cleaned and sanitized, only required items are being kept in classrooms. The elimination of furniture and cushions, fewer books, less arts and crafts materials (or materials stored in easy to clean containers) will provide less space for pests to hide. We touched on this in the blog post, Bed Bugs in Schools – Prevention. And, as we learned in our keynote address, Healthy Environments for Learning by Dr. Lorraine Maxwell,  too much clutter can also lead to cognitive fatigue. While there is much influencing learning outcomes this year, we can hope that simplifying classrooms will help reduce pests and support learning.

Food in the classroom

There will be expanded food in classrooms as student travel within building is curtailed. Breakfast in the classroom has already proven to be challenging. This year lunch in the classroom, as well as teacher breaks, will increase the volume of food and food waste, the number of spills, and the amount of cleaning occurring throughout the school. On the School IPM Best Practices website, you can find information and resources on breakfast in the classroom.

Ventilation

To increase ventilation, windows and doors are being encouraged to be left open. Open doors leave opportunities for rodents and flying insects to enter buildings. Windows should have screens in place to exclude pests, but have screens been checked for holes or bent frames? Bobby Corrigan discussed rodent exclusion in his presentation, Identifying and Understanding the Rodent Vulnerable Areas (RVAs) of Schools: Essential for Sustainable IPM.

Sanitation

With IPM, we usually discuss cleaning more than sanitation, but Covid-19 has created a shift. (Note: this is unfortunate as this particular virus succumbs to soap and water.) We are not the experts on this issue, but have included a couple of blog posts to help provide some guidance:

The most important outcome of the conference is the message that school building matters and, indeed, as Dr. Maxwell concludes, “When it comes to student learning and achievement, the physical environment is a full partner.” And we all have a part to play.

Be sure to visit our School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next webpage for information on our speakers and links to the recordings of all the presentations.

For more information on school IPM, visit our Schools and Daycare Centers webpage.

Back to School – Keeping the Rodents Outside

We should have little trouble with vermin if builders would hear and understand the ‘language’ of vermin and do a better job in eliminating their entrances and hiding place.” – Hugo Hartnak, 1939

photo of Bobby Corrigan wearing a hard hat, holding a clipboard in one hand and a flashlight in the other pointing out a rusted wall grid plate with a hole large enough for a rat to fit through.

For Bobby Corrigan, pest management is a passion. Called upon for his expertise across the country, we are honored to include him in our conference.

Pests enter school buildings in one of two ways: they are transported in by students, staff, or delivery truck or they make their way in from the outside. The School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next virtual conference will focus on the first mode, but we will also include information on the second with tips, and a tool, to help with exclusion – or keeping pests out of buildings. Dr. Bobby Corrigan, co-founder of the first Scientific Coalition on Pest Exclusion, will join us to discuss rodent vulnerable areas.

All conference participants that complete the pre- and post-tests and evaluation will be mailed a Frye Inspection Tool (FIT tool). This simple probe can be used to demonstrate if a rodent can squeeze under a gap or through a round opening. By design, if the probe ‘FITs,’ so too can the specified rodent. This tool can be used to educate decision makers about rodent entry points and help justify pest exclusion.

picture of a F.I.T. tool, a probe with two different sized ends and demarcations to measure gnaw mark and dropping size.

A F.I.T. tool allows you to assess potential rodent entryways and identify whether gnaw marks and droppings were caused by rats or mice.

The measurement specs for the FIT are based on the size of adult rodent skulls. If a rodent can fit its head under a gap or through an opening, they are able to wiggle their body through (watch video Mouse Entry Points to see a mouse in action). The FIT can also be used to help differentiate rodent evidence (both gnaw marks and droppings) between rats and mice.

Signing up as a school district? We will mail enough FIT tools to cover all the participants from your district, so be sure to provide information for them all.A picture of a school with a banner that says "School is Open Humans Only" with a bedbug, cockroach, tick looking at the sign. The tick is holding a mouse pull toy and the cockroach is holding a coronavirus shaped balloon.

For the full agenda, registration, and pesticide recertification credit information, please visit https://nysipm.cornell.edu/resources/nys-ipm-conferences/school-ipm-2020-where-weve-been-and-whats-next/.

 

Back to School – Humans Only!

A picture of a school with a banner that says "School is Open Humans Only" with a bedbug, cockroach, tick looking at the sign. The tick is holding a mouse pull toy and the cockroach is holding a coronavirus shaped balloon.Schools across the world are having conversations about safely sending teachers, students, and the rest of the school staff back for face-to-face education during a global pandemic. These are vitally important discussions and plans need to adapt to new information. And this focus on school health and safety also provides an ideal, if unanticipated, backdrop for our rescheduled annual conference – School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next.

Covid-19 is an excellent example of a community issue that cannot be handled by school personnel alone. We have all been called to support the health of the community through social distancing, wearing masks, and handwashing. Our conference will focus on community-wide pest issues such as German cockroaches and bedbugs. There is simply no way for schools to prevent these insects from being reintroduced by students, school staff, and delivery trucks. How then, as a community, can we address these issues before they breach the school walls? And avoid the subsequent calls by some to close the building for pesticide applications?

photo of flat, wide, reddish bug on a finger tip

The penultimate hitchhiker, bed bugs need to be dealt with at a community level.

Please join us on the mornings of August 11 and 18 as we hear from community and agency leaders – and you! – about efforts to provide healthy learning and work environments. We welcome your experiences and ideas as we use this momentum to address school pest issues now and into the future.

For the full agenda, registration, and pesticide recertification credit information, please visit https://nysipm.cornell.edu/resources/nys-ipm-conferences/school-ipm-2020-where-weve-been-and-whats-next/.

 

Pesticide Use Guidance During COVID-19

Our friends over at Cornell’s Pesticide Management Education Program (psep.cce.cornell.edu) has asked us to help spread information on disinfectants and sanitizers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in adverse health effects from the misuse of these products. There have also been several fraudulent products produced during this time that potential applicators should be made aware of. Please read and share the following:

Beware of fraudulent pesticide claims related to SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 coronavirus):

It has come to our attention that unregistered disinfectants claiming to protect against the virus are being marketed in the US. The efficacy and safety of these products is unsubstantiated and their use is illegal.

Regulators are taking steps to prevent such products from reaching the market, but it is your responsibility to use only those products designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for use against SARS-CoV-2, listed at https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/covid19.pdf. Please check this list frequently, as content is subject to change.

Be safe disinfecting your home:

Disinfectants are pesticides and you can only use them as directed by the label. Therefore:

  • Never mix different disinfectant products together because doing so is dangerous. For example, mixing bleach with acids (such as vinegar) or ammonia releases life-threatening toxic fumes.
  • Never use disinfectants or disinfectant wipes on your skin. Instead, wash with soap and water; you can also use hand sanitizer on your hands.
  • Never wash fruits and vegetables with soap, sanitizers, or disinfectants as this could also result in poisoning. Wash produce only in clean water.

For more information on disinfecting your home and how to handle food during this crisis, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/disinfecting-your-home.pdf and  https://instituteforfoodsafety.cornell.edu/coronavirus-covid-19/food-safety-recommendation-consumer/.

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.