NORWALK, Ohio (WJW) — Norwalk City School District parents are being urged to screen their students for bedbugs, after the pests were discovered at several district schools.

After the district and Huron County Public Health received numerous calls reporting bed bugs and cockroaches in district buildings, the district in a Wednesday news release acknowledged bedbugs have been found at:

  • Norwalk Middle School
  • Main Street Intermediate
  • Pleasant Elementary
  • Maplehurst Elementary
  • Norwalk High School

The district has since spread diatomaceous earth, a non-toxic insect-killer, around those buildings, according to the release.

“Though effective, it does take time to resolve the issue,” it reads.

Cockroaches also reported at Norwalk schools

The district is also aware of claims that cockroaches were spotted in the schools’ cafeterias, reads the release. County health specialists this week inspected Norwalk Middle School, Pleasant Elementary and Maplehurst Elementary but didn’t find any infestations.

“However, school personnel have indicated isolated incidents of cockroaches seen on students’ personal items,” it reads.

The district has hired exterminators that last week treated Norwalk Middle School, Pleasant Elementary, Main Street Intermediate and Maplehurst Elementary for cockroaches and treated Norwalk High School for bedbugs, according to the release.

How bedbugs are handled at school

According to the district’s policy manual, students suspected to be carrying bedbugs are removed from their classrooms and sent for an inspection of their clothing and belongings by the school nurse or a qualified person.

” … Students identified as potentially carrying bedbugs will not be excluded from school,” it reads. “However, all reasonable steps to safely remove bedbugs from such students and prevent the spread of future infestations may be taken. The administration will [discreetly] follow the guidelines provided in this policy with the affected student’s dignity in mind.”

The families of that student’s classmates can also expect to get a notification from the district and additional information on how to protect their homes:

How to protect your home from bedbugs

Bedbugs are “great hitchhikers,” meaning they can latch on to students’ belongings — like backpacks and clothing — and follow them home to start a new infestation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The district encourages parents to check students’ belongings for signs of bedbugs and take several other precautions recommended by the EPA:

  • Throwing students’ clothes and backpacks into a dryer on high heat can kill bedbugs
  • De-clutter the home, so bedbugs have fewer places to hide
  • Vacuum frequently
  • “Be vigilant” when using shared laundry facilities. Laundry should be transported to and from the home in plastic bags, and put into the bag directly from the dryer