There's no infestation, District officials say, but insects keep hitchhiking to school.

The Taft City School District is taking steps to deal with sporadic cases of bed bugs hitching rides to school.

The issue was brought to the Board of Trustees last week by two Roosevelt classroom health aides who talked about finding

the insects on students clothing or backpacks on a regular basis.

That got the Board's immediate attention and Superintendent Julie Graves was directed to take steps to deal with the issue, including developing a policy for handling students who come to school

sites carrying bed bugs on their clothes or backpacks and getting outside agencies,

including the Kern County Department of Health, involved in dealing with problem homes where the bugs are established. There is no ongoing infestation in any of the district's schools, Graves and the two health aides said, but the bugs are discovered from time to time and have been showing up more often at Roosevelt, where the District's fourth and fifth grade students attend school.

"The Taft City School District is aware of some isolated instances being found at school sites in the District," Graves wrote in a letter to parents in February.

"However, to be clear, there is not a bed bug infestation at any of the schools within the district."

When bugs are discovered, the rooms are promptly sprayed by a pest management company, she

said.

Other actions are taken as well through a bed bug action plan developed by

the District.

It includes:

•Annual education for District staff on identifying bed bugs and protocols when they are discovered.

•Proactive motoring by custodians.

•Providing plastic bins to store personal items like clothing and backpacks while students are in school.

•Working with a pest

control company and keeping classrooms clean and uncluttered.
Unfortunately, the bugs come back.

Roosevelt is seeing the bed bugs coming back again and again, the two aides, Lydia Bramlet and Sherri Dykes said.
"This is not an isolated issue in our classroom but a serious problem," Bramlet told the board. "You can't imagine the horror to find these bugs crawling on our kids and feeding on their blood."

She said there are some students who had bed bugs on their clothing on a regular basis.

According to the Department of Health pamphlet, bed bugs are generally more of a nuisance than a health hazard.

They do not spread disease, but they can cause allergic reactions and sometime infections when people scratch the itch resulting from the bites.

The Board of Trustees supported Bramlet and Dykes in their calls for swift action.

They asked for a bed bug policy similar to the one used for head lice.

If a child has lice, they are sent home and not readmitted until they are checked by school personnel and found to be lice free.

The aides asked for the same policy for bed bugs.

The Board of Trustees

supported Bramlet and Dykes in their calls for swift action. They directed Graves to prepare a policy and contact the Health Department.
"This policy should

also work for bed bugs," Trustee Les Clark Jr. said.

Graves said she is consulting Schools Legal Service for advice on developing a new bed bug policy and dealing with problem homes where the bed bugs come from.