VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Custodial crews at White Oaks Elementary in Virginia Beach continue to monitor rodent activity after 11 rats were captured at the school.
Jennifer McCarrel with Virginia Beach Public Schools told WAVY.com the first indication of rodents occurred in December immediately after contractors completed lighting work at the school. Officials believe the contractors left the school's doors open while equipment was being taken in and out of the school.
"The janitors usually keep the school really, really clean so if there is a mess they clean it up right away. And I think the school is doing everything they can to take care of it," parent Amber Whiteside said.
Since December, 11 rats have been captured. McCarrell told WAVY.com they were found in the following locations:
- Four babies and one adult captured in a science closet
- Three babies caught in a custodial closet adjacent to the above science closet
- One rat caught in another custodial closet
- One rat caught in a portable classroom
- One caught in the HVAC unit
At no time were the rats captured during school hours. McCarrell said crews were placing the traps after students left for the day and were picked back up prior to students returning the next morning.
"I was kind of surprised because it looks clean here. It's a nice and decent school. I'ts an old school. Things like this happen," parent Ashanti Jones said.
There have been no sightings of rodent activity in the kitchen or food service area of the school.
Parents received the following notice Wednesday, May 1:
This is Stephanie Haus, principal of White Oaks Elementary, with an important message. I need to advise you that a television report about our school will air on this evening's news. Specifically, the reporter will note that our school is experiencing a rodent problem. I regret to say that this weekend a rat was spotted running across our stage. Prior to this unfortunate happening, our central administration staff had sent a team from the Office of Custodial Services out to our school to address this. Over recent weeks, we had seen evidence of rodent activity and had reported it to Custodial Services. They have worked diligently to get rid of the problem and we were hopeful those measures had been successful. Unfortunately, this weekend's circumstances seem to indicate some problem remains. Therefore, please know Custodial Services is committed to redoubling efforts to address the issue. Finally, let me assure you that our building custodial staff has done a wonderful job cleaning up and ensuring that no rodent activity is taking place during the day in classrooms. We are committed to providing a safe, clean environment for your children and we will do what it takes to keep it that way.
As always, thank you for your support.
The reason parents weren't told of the rodent issue prior to Wednesday was due to the fact that the activity was intermittent enough that crews thought the problem had been fixed then, McCarrell said. Because of this, efforts to fix the problem have been redoubled.
"We want to be very clear that at no time has there been activity in a classroom during school hours when children would have been exposed to a rodent nor has the instructional process ever been interrupted as a result," McCarrell said.
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