Remember the good olde days, when lice were the primary parasite tormenting our schoolchildren? So neatly confined to the scalp, so easily banished by way of a quick dip in a neurotoxin and a merciless haircut? The alarming uptick in bedbugs cases in city classrooms confirms that the simpler times are far behind us. (Fortunately or unfortunately, so is DDT.)
With 336 confirmed cases of bedbugs in the first two months of this school year alone, city schools are on track to far surpass the 1,019 cases reported last year, and parents are understandably freaked out. Schools are indeed prime comingling grounds for the bedbug infestations that might otherwise be isolated to people's homes. "I think it's an epidemic. Bedbugs are everywhere," one parent told the News. Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, 'cuz they're eating everybody's blood out here.
The Department of Education, however, refuses to use the E-word, claiming the uptick is no epidemic. Department officials stressed that the lack of beds in schools prevent them from becoming breeding grounds for the bloodsuckers, and want us all to keep in mind that a confirmed case "can be the discovery of a single bug." Which should be less alarming because, you know, bedbugs hang out by themselves on the regular.
In Midwood, Brooklyn, PS 197 has fumigated four classrooms this year, and is resorting to plastic-bagging the children's backpacks and coats. The unfortunate PS 200 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, was hit with two outbreaks within the past month alone. Fifth-grader Brianna Simmons shared her shock with the News, confirming that ten-year-olds watch MTV. "I was, like, 'OMG, there's bedbugs in the school," she said, leading some specialists to question the parasites' ability to damage the neural region responsible for verbal cognition.