New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Students moved from school to athletic center after bats are found in building
NEW HAVEN — Students at Ross/Woodward School were diverted to the Floyd Little Fieldhouse on Friday morning after bats were discovered in the school building, a school spokesman said.
“The move was made out of an abundance of caution for safety,” district spokesman Justin Harmon said in an email. “Animal control was on the scene.”
“At the fieldhouse, students were engaged in art projects and physical activity,” he said.
Breakfast and lunch were served.
All students are safe, Harmon said.
Harmon said no student was exposed to the bats, because they were discovered before school started.
“The problem was discovered before school opened for children in the morning,” he said. “They were able to divert the buses.”
Harmon said a message was sent to parents to drop students at the fieldhouse if they were bringing children to school. Some parents did not receive the message, so buses were used to bring those children from Ross/Woodward to the fieldhouse, he said.
Harmon said the bats were discovered by a custodian who was in the building early in the morning. He said Connecticut Pest Control was addressing the bat issue.
Experts says it’s the time of year when people start seeing more bats, and when more bats get into their houses because there is a new generation of bats and they are testing their wings.
“This is the time of year when young bats are learning how to fly,” said Jenny Dickson, director of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division.
“Everyone leaves the roost and goes one way — the dumb kid goes the other way,” into someone’s house. “It’s pretty common,” she said.
Bats can carry rabies.
But while there are a lot more bats flying around now — eating millions of mosquitoes, by the way — rabies does not pose a significant threat, Dickson said. “Less than half of one percent will have the rabies virus,” he said. And in order to catch rabies from a bat, a person would have to be bitten or scratched.
In the past year, the State Public Health Laboratory tested 459 bats submitted by the public and 15 tested positive, a rate of 3.3 percent. But those were bats submitted “that were behaving strangely in the first place,” Dickson said.
There are nine bat species native to Connecticut, although the population of little brown bats has been reduced by 90 percent by white-nose syndrome, according to a study in the journal Conservation Biology.
Big brown bats also have seen their numbers shrink because of the fungus, which grows on bats while they are hibernating.