A student at Hastings High School went to a teacher with insect bites on their arm Tuesday, Hastings High School Principal Teresa Heide said.
After checking, the teacher and student determined that the bites might have been from a bedbug, Heide said.
“Even though it is unlikely for bedbugs to infest the school, I want to assure you that Hastings High School has conducted an inspection and has planned for treatment, which involves an integrated pest management plan,” the principal said in a robocall to parents Wednesday.
At 4 p.m. Tuesday evening, a pest control service came into the school with a dog trained to detect the scent of bedbugs and their eggs. The dog identified the scent on a staff member's chair in the student's classroom, along with chairs in the library, computer lab, office conference room and in the clothing donation room.
The student had been to two of those locations recently, but not the others.
All of those areas have since been closed until pest control services are able treat the area on Friday. After the areas are treated, the school will conduct another inspection.
“We feel that, if we are going to eradicate this, we are going to do it the right way,” Heide said.
It is unknown how the bedbugs got into the school, she said, but there are a number of ways it could have happened in a school of more than 800 students.
Since one of the locations the dog detected a scent was in the clothing donation room, Heide said staff plan to update the protocol for accepting donations.
The school also contacted the Barry Eaton District Health Department for information on how to deal with the problem.
Heide said she talked to the parents of the student who had been bitten and worked out a plan with them. The student changes clothes upon arriving at school and before going home.
The school also provided resources to the family on how they can deal with bedbugs, and gave them a deadline to show that they had taken steps to address any bedbugs in their home.
Heide also talked to the parents of the other students in the classroom on the steps they can take.
“Keeping all students protected and safe, along with communication to our families is our primary goal,” Heide said.
She encouraged families to contact her directly at 269-945-6165 if they have questions.