Category Archives: 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/.

 

Managing Wild Parsnip

“As everyone knows, when fighting a zombie, you grab a shovel and aim for its head. The same with wild parsnip, except you aim for its feet.” – Paul Hetzler

picture of yellow umbrella-like flower on a large green stalk

The bright yellow flowers of wild parsnip can be noticeable from a distance. The sap in this widely spreading invasive plant can cause severe burns.

There is no lack of invasive species in New York – but some do raise more of a concern than others. One such is the wild parsnip. Commonly spotted along roadsides with its bright yellow flowers, it can cause a problem on low maintenance areas on school grounds.

According to the New York Invasive Species Information Clearinghouse, wild parsnip produces furanocoumarin, “a compound in its leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits, that causes intense, localized burning, rash, severe blistering, and discoloration on contact with the skin on sunny days”. Avoid the sap and avoid the chemical burns.

In order to avoid those burns, the NYS DEC recommends:

  • Do not touch any parts of the plant with bare skin.
  • Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, pants, boots and eye protection if working near wild parsnip to prevent skin contact with the sap. Synthetic, water-resistant materials are recommended.
  • If contact with sap occurs, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water, and keep it covered for at least 48 hours to prevent a reaction.
  • If a reaction occurs, keep the affected area out of sunlight to prevent further burning or discoloration, and see a physician.
yellow flowers with some seed formation

Wild parsnip going to seed. The seeds become browner as they get ready to drop.

Digging out the root, cutting the root an inch or two below the soil, mowing, and herbicides can all be effective in managing wild parsnip. It is unlikely, however, that an emergency exemption for herbicide use would be approved before seed drop. Mechanical methods will have more long-term benefits.

And wild parsnip is going to seed, so make sure you don’t ensure a new crop next year by spreading seeds around! Before conducting any management, carefully cut the seed heads off with clippers and put them in a plastic bag. The bag can then be left in the sun to rot the seeds before disposal. And don’t forget to wear protective clothing to prevent any sap from reaching exposed skin or eyes.

If you want to learn more about wild parsnip and its management, our favorite guest blogger Paul Hetzler covered it well and humorously in his blog, Vengeful Veggies.

For more pictures of wild parsnip, visit the Turfgrass and Landscape Weed ID website. For information on other  invasive species, visit the New York State IPM Program’s Invasive Species page.

And, just in case we didn’t quite get the message across – wear protective clothing and eye wear to prevent sap from causing severe burns.

SIGN UP FOR OUR CONFERENCE: School IPM 2020: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next

A Virtual Two Half-Day Conference

When: Mornings of August 11 & 18, 2020

Where: We will be connecting via Zoom.

How: Click Here to Register

Cost: $15 per person or $25 per school district

PESTICIDE APPLICATOR CREDITS AVAILABLE:

NYSIPM Conference 2020 pesticide recertification credits

NYS Pesticide Applicator recertification credits have been awarded for the following categories: Core, 3A, 3B, 7A, 7F, and 8. Individuals seeking credits will need to submit their applicator ID numbers when pre-registering. Further instructions will be sent upon pre-registering.

Despite decades of promoting school integrated pest management (IPM), bed bugs, cockroaches, lice, and mice continue to be a problem in schools. Part of the issue is lack of implementation of proven IPM techniques such as exclusion. Part of the issue is that some pests, like bed bugs, German cockroaches and lice arrive in backpacks, delivered supplies, and directly on students and staff. While schools often have plans in place to address these pests when they are discovered, it will take a wider community effort to prevent their introductions.

The Sixth Annual NYS IPM conference brings together a wide range of speakers to address and discuss the status of school IPM adoption and where we need to go in the future. If you or your family is impacted by pests or pest management on and off school property, this virtual conference is for you.

Alejandro A. Calixto, our new NYS IPM Program director, will be introducing the conference with remarks on “Perceptions of IPM and Today’s Social Climate.”

Our keynote speaker, Lorraine Maxwell, will discuss “Healthy Environments for Learning”. Her research has found that school building conditions, which include conducive conditions for pests as well as the presence of pests, impact the school’s social climate, which directly impacts student performance.

cartoon of a bed bug, tick, and cockroach who are disappointed to see they are not allowed to go to school. The tick has a mouse pull-toy, and the cockroach has a corona-virus balloon. The bed bug holds a lunch bag.

Conference Agendas

Day 1, August 11, 2020
8:00 Registration: Please Note: if you answered yes during pre-registration to needing pesticide credits, it is important to log into the conference at this time to show your applicator card with picture ID via webcam
8:30 Welcome and Introductory Remarks: Alejandro Calixto, Director, NYS IPM Program at Cornell University, “Perceptions of Integrated Pest Management and Today’s Social Climate”
8:45 Keynote Presentation: Lorraine Maxwell, Associate Professor Emerti, Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, “Healthy Environments for Learning”
9:30 The Status of IPM Implementation within NYS Schools

  • Lynn Braband, Retired, NYSIPM Program
  • Daryl Andreades, Senior Architect, NYS Department of Education
  • Claire Barnett, Founder and Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network
  • Fred Koelbel, NYS School Facilities Association and Port Jefferson School District
10:50 Break
11:15 Panel Discussion
12:15 Concluding Remarks and Adjourn
Day 2, August 18, 2020
8:00 Registration: Please Note: if you answered yes during pre-registration to needing pesticide credits, it is important to log into the conference at this time to show your applicator card with picture ID via webcam
8:30 Welcome & Recap of August 11 Session
9:00 Virtual “tabling” event: Five-minute presentations by partnering organizations describing the services they provide schools.
9:45 What We’re Doing – Community Interventions. Models of community-level pest management. What may we learn from these examples as applied to school pests with strong community connections?

  • 9:45    Dina Fonseca, Rutgers Center for Vector Biology: Community-Level Mosquito Control
  • 10:15   Paul D. Curtis, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University: Community-based Deer Management in New York State
  • 10:45    Robert Corrigan, Corrigan Consulting, Briarcliff Manor, NY: Identifying and Understanding the Rodent Vulnerable Areas (RVAs) of Schools: Essential for Sustainable IPM
11:15 Break
11:30 Break Out Groups: Identifying Strategies for Interventions for School Pests with Strong Community Connections. Moderated by NYS IPM Program staff, participants will identify common pathways by which targeted pests are introduced to schools and will develop interventions that will prevent or reduce those problems. Participants will also interact about the roles of collaboration, communication, and education in implementing the interventions. Essentially the goal of the break out group will to begin the development of an IPM program for the targeted pest at the community level. One group each will address bed bugs (moderated by Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann) and cockroaches (moderated by Matthew Frye and Amara Dunn). A third break out group (moderated by Joellen Lampman) will begin the process of establishing school IPM priorities, both in school buildings and on school grounds, for NYS, using the School IPM Priorities of the Northeastern U. S. as a starting point.
12:15 Report and Wrap-Up: The break out groups will each give a brief oral report on the results of their interactions; followed by a general discussion and concluding remarks.
1:00 Adjourn

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