Concerns about bedbugs kept more than 300 Hadley Junior High students home from school Wednesday as Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 brought in a bug-sniffing dog to assist with its inspections.
Officials say they determined there was a light infestation of bedbugs in the school on Nov. 2, two days after a student discovered a single bug and a teacher bagged it and brought it to the main office.
An inspection that lasted several hours revealed one other living bedbug, as well as several dead ones and what appeared to be insect debris.
The affected areas have been treated, officials said Wednesday, and this weekend those efforts will spread to the entire school, including portable classrooms.
"I want to say how much I appreciate the support we've had from staff, parents and community," Superintendent Paul Gordon said in an email on the district website. "We believe Hadley is safe."
Out of nearly 1,200 students at Hadley, 160 remained home on Monday, 234 on Tuesday and 330 on Wednesday. School is not in session Thursday and Friday for parent/teacher conferences.
"Parents always have that option (to keep kids home on an excused absence) if they have reason. We are encouraging kids to stay in school," said Julie Worthen, director of communications. "The school experience has not been disrupted. They're in class and the area of learning."
Following last weekend's inspection, another began Tuesday night and continued Wednesday night using visual inspections by technicians and Riley, a golden lab trained to identify the insects by scent.
Following this weekend's treatment, the district plans another inspection in a few weeks.
Just this past January, Orkin ranked Chicago as the No. 1 city for bedbug treatments in the nation.
"We've seen no heavy concentrations anywhere, but we did see evidence of bugs," Worthen said. "Bedbugs are nocturnal and they hide. We're assuming there are more than ones we see. Our buildings are inspected regularly for all kinds of things. This will be an inspection for this particular problem."
The school this week is in the process of decluttering by getting rid of rugs, pillows, blankets and any other items that might provide hiding places for bedbugs.
The district has asked students to empty their lockers so they also may be treated, and provided students with bags to take home their gym uniforms.
Because extreme heat is one method believed to kill bedbugs, students' parents are being asked to put the uniforms in the dryer on high for at least 20 minutes and then wash and dry as usual.