Monroe County middle school closed after bird mite infestation

Local News

TELLICO PLAINS (WATE) – Monroe County Schools closed Tellico Plains Junior High School and moved students to Tellico Plains High School after multiple students showed up in the school’s clinic with mites on them.

Monroe County School said bird mites were discovered in an area of the gym on May 2. Fourteen students who had been sitting in that area of the gym reported to the school nurse they had mites on them.

The gym was closed until May 10 for pest control treatment. After the building was reopened, Monroe County Schools said a student reported to the nurse with suspected bird mites.

The building was closed again. The next day, the school system said the building was treated with a thermal fog, as well as crack and crevice treatment.

As a precaution, on May 15, students were relocated to Tellico Plains High School for the remainder of the school year. Monroe County Schools said they had follow-up treatments in the gym as well as the main building of the junior high school.

Monroe County Schools Coordinated School Health Supervisor Jackie Gray contacted the  Monroe County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Tennessee Department of Health about the incident at the junior high school. The school system said Gray also talked with the State Department of Education Coordinated School Health Office who confirmed that the school district had taken appropriate action regarding the mites.

Seth Wilson is the father of a student at TPJHS. He says school officials announced the kids would be finishing out the year at the high school, they were not given a reason why.

“It didn’t say what it was, just precautionary measures,” said Wilson. I”’m not really happy. I’m just glad my son didn’t have them.”

He says the school still has not told parents about the bird mites but they were finding out from students and other parents.

He says he hopes future incidents like this will be handled differently.

“I think they need to handle it a lot quicker and better than what they did.”

Bird Mite Treatment Timeline

May 2, 2017

  • 14 students at Tellico Plains Junior High School were in the school clinic with mites on them
  • The mites were discovered in one area of the gym where the students had been sitting
  • Monroe County Schools’ Central Office was notified and an additional nurse was dispatched to the high school
  • The Monroe County Health Department was contacted for assistance
  • Central office supervisors reported to Tellico Plains Junior High School and pest control was contacted
  • Any child who reported seeing mites was seen by the school nurse, parents were contacted and written information was shared with the parents about bird mites
  • The affected area of the gym and furniture was cleaned and pest control treatment began by the afternoon
  • The gym building was closed and remained closed through May 10, 2017
  • The principal shared information via social media and the Director of Schools shared information via print media

May 5

  • Partial thermal fog

May 9-10

  • Bird nest removal and fog

May 11, 2017

  • The building was cleared for use
  • A student reported to the nurse with suspected mites
  • The building was closed again

May 12, 2017

  • Crack and crevice treatment
  • Second thermal fog

May 15, 2017

  • Crack and crevice treatment
  • As a precaution, students were relocated to Tellico Plains High School for the remainder fo the school year

May 18, 2017

  • 7-10 day follow-up thermal fog
  • Bird nest removal, crack and crevice treatment, and ULV/thermal fog in the main building began

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