When it comes to pest pressures across Maryland, Virginia, and the greater Washington D.C.-area, few are as detrimental in the classroom setting as cockroaches. Between the risk factors they pose to teachers and students and the feelings of disgust they bring to anyone who comes into contact with them. When cockroaches are in the classroom, sadly, everything else gets put on hold.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at why cockroaches are a common problem in classrooms and other school facilities, different problems they bring to buildings they infest, and steps everyone involved can take to stop cockroach infestations before they happen.
Why Cockroaches Infest Classrooms
Like any other insect, roaches are always in search of three key resources: food, water, and a safe nesting location. Unfortunately, a typical school presents all three of these resources in abundance, making the classroom a common target for an infestation if the proper precautions are not taken to deter them.
What attracts cockroaches to classrooms in particular? Simply put, the students. When students bring in outside food or leave spilled drinks on the floor it can attract unwanted roaches. Even if lunches are stored in their backpacks if not in sealed containers, it is still a potential food source.
Part of the problem comes from the many ways these pests can enter the facility and from there into the classroom. Some of the most common spots roaches are found can include kitchens and cafeterias (due to the high quantities of potential food and water sources), locker rooms (due to high overall moisture content), and bathrooms (which could have leaky pipes to present yet another water source). Once an infestation has taken root in one of these areas, it’s only a matter of time before it spreads into the surrounding classrooms.
Problems Roaches Bring to Classrooms They Invade
There is a reason humans have an instinctive repulsion when it comes to roaches. For as long as we’ve been around, they’ve been a constant nuisance inside homes and businesses, and wherever they go, trouble follows. If you have a cockroach infestation in your classroom, don’t be surprised if you also experience some of the following problems:
- Diseases: Because they spend so much time around garbage and other waste, cockroaches pick up all manner of bacteria and pathogens that can then be spread to any humans they come into contact with. The cockroach itself has been shown to spread infections and illnesses including salmonella, E. coli, Typhoid, Dysentery, staphylococcus (staph infection), streptococcus (strep throat), and even the Poliomyelitis virus (Polio), among others.
- Food Contamination: Beyond direct contact with humans, cockroaches also spread illnesses through food by contaminating it with their droppings, saliva, eggs, and even their discarded body parts. Any bacteria ingested by a cockroach can survive inside its digestive system for months or even years, passing it on directly to any humans who have the misfortune of eating food that the cockroach has gotten to first.
- Allergic Reactions: In addition to spreading diseases, cockroaches are also notorious for aggravating allergies in certain people, most notably people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems. In fact, people can become asthmatic in the first place by inhaling cockroach allergens. To a lesser extent, cockroach saliva is also known to cause rashes, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes, among other negative side effects.
- Code Violations: The health risks cockroaches bring to schools make them a serious cause for concern and a common source of health code violations, which reflect poorly on both the school and the staff. Once a health code violation has been documented, it can lead to further negative consequences and even legal action, not to mention backlash from concerned parents.
- Class Disruption: If health concerns weren’t enough, educators also have a unique reason to detest cockroaches in that they cause classroom disruption. When cockroaches are scuttling around the classroom it can be impossible for students to focus on anything else, making effective learning nearly impossible.
With so much at stake and so many potential problems in store for roach-infested classrooms, preventing cockroaches is not an option - it’s a necessity.
How to Protect Classrooms and Other School Facilities from Cockroaches
Cockroach prevention in school settings can be a daunting task for a number of reasons: With so much foot traffic in and out of the school’s classrooms and other facilities throughout the day, doors and windows are always being left open, providing roaches an easy entry point. Schools with aging structures can provide numerous entry points such as cracks or tears in the walls, while the sheer size of many schools can make identifying these points of entry very difficult. There is also the distinct possibility that students could inadvertently bring in roaches in their bags or clothing after lunch or recess.
While difficult to achieve, roach prevention is possible when everyone does their fair share to help. Cockroaches in school environments affect everyone from school staff to after-care programs, so it’s only fitting that everyone plays their part in helping prevent them. No matter what your role may be, here are some tips and strategies to mitigate your risk for infestation:
For Groundskeepers and Maintenance Staff
- Cracks and holes in buildings should be repaired using a mildew-resistant caulking
- Remove garbage from classrooms, cafeterias, and kitchen areas on a regular basis
- Keep garbage in covered containers stored several feet away from the exterior of any school facilities
For Kitchen Staff
- Don’t allow dirty dishes to accumulate in the sink
- Clean the kitchen and cafeteria thoroughly after the end of the lunch period
- Periodically check and clean the evaporation pan underneath the kitchen’s refrigerators and freezers to remove built-up water or dirt
- Check the space between the stove and cabinet after each lunch period to remove grease and food scraps that might have accumulated there
- Pull the stove out periodically and clean thoroughly to remove built-up food particles
- Keep food stored in containers with tight-fitting lids, refrigerated if possible
- Prevent students from bringing outside snacks or beverages into the classroom
- Ensure that any crumbs or other messes are cleaned up at the end of each classroom period
- Inspect students’ book bags and clothing items after returning from lunch or recess in the event of a roach encounter
- If the classroom has a pet, store its food in sealed containers and clean out food and water bowls before leaving each night
- Students should be educated on the problems of roaches and why obeying rules against bringing in outside food and beverages should be a top priority
- Instruct students to report any signs of roaches to the proper personnel
No matter what role you serve within the school, keep in mind that you shouldn’t go overboard with do-it-yourself efforts when it comes to roach prevention or treatment. In addition to failing to treat the whole problem, many DIY methods can inadvertently make the problem worse or even put students and staff at risk, especially when pesticides are used.
The best solution always comes from introducing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program. An IPM program incorporates identification of any present cockroach species, active monitoring of the infestation, and modification of the school habitat as much as possible in order to deter infestations and create an environment that is as clean and pest free. An IPM Program will also be able to specify the best and safest treatments for the individual situation, whether it be baiting, dusting, or spraying - all of which can then be undertaken by a certified pest management professional.
Why Education Facilities Turn to American Pest
If the classrooms around your school have come under attack by cockroaches, the biggest mistake you can make is waiting to call a professional for help. Don’t leave it to chance: contact the professionals at American Pest for safe and effective treatments to keep your school cockroach-free.
American Pest has been protecting educational facilities across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. from cockroaches and other pests for almost a century. With our experienced technicians and access to the latest pest elimination technology at our disposal, we can eliminate any pest problem you may be facing. Contact us today to find out more about how an Integrated Pest Management plan through American Pest can get your classroom cockroach-free and keep it that way.
Questions about pests? We can help. (855) 212-3677