School stays open despite bedbug discovery; parents, students upset

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Crews are cleaning a Philadelphia high school after bedbugs were found.

The school district says they are aware of the bedbug problem at Murrell Dobbins High School and that the students are safe to be in the school while cleaning takes place.

But some parents we talked to don't agree.

One of those parents is Shonda Nixon, and she tells us, "They need to close the school, because I don't see how they can let the kids go to school like that. Really, this stuff is coming from out the school, inside homes, and if we keep them out of school we get in trouble."

Nixon is reacting to a letter she received from the Philadelphia School District that went out this week alerting parents that bedbugs were found at Dobbins.

According to the district, that afternoon exterminators steamed and vacuumed the school. It is set to be treated again next week when the students are out for spring break.

Students sounded off Friday, angry they had to come to school. They say if they miss, they will be considered truant.

The school district defended their decision to keep kids in the classroom.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard explains, "Bedbugs, actually, do not like being in school. It's a place that is not a welcoming place for them because it's cold, and they cannot do what they want to do, which is actually reproduce."

However, the school district's reasoning isn't settling fears.

Jamesa Jones is a sophomore at Dobbins. She tells us, "My mom said they're bloodsuckers and they're hitchhikers. So, I'm about to turn right back around, go home."

The district says dealing with bedbugs is a problem for schools operating in a city, and that they're taking this opportunity to educate parents on how to prevent infestations in their homes.

Gallard says, "Bedbugs come from the outside into the school and people may find it in the classroom, may find it in the cafeteria, may find it anywhere. But that just shows there is a bedbug infestation in somebody's house."

The school district tells us they are working with the Health Department and they also sent home a list of tips and guidelines to deal with bedbugs.
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