The Washington Post

Rats found at day-care center on Hill

Steps have been taken to get rid of rodents seen this summer, officials say

- BY DANA HEDGPETH

A day-care center for the children of congressio­nal leaders and staffers on Capitol Hill experience­d “rodent sightings” over the summer, and officials who oversee the site said they’ve taken steps to resolve the issue.

Trouble with rats at the U.S. House of Representa­tives Child Care Center in Southwest Washington was reported earlier by ABC7 television and an Instagram account called Dear White Staffers, which is known for detailing concerns of staffers on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. House’s Office of the Chief Administra­tive Officer, which manages the day care, said in a statement to ABC7 that “there have been no reports, sightings, or evidence of rodents since midAugust.” But even one rat was too much for some staffers there. They said they had concerns about management’s response and alleged unwillingn­ess to remove teachers and children from areas where rats had been spotted.

Gabrielle Reid, a former administra­tive specialist and assistant teacher at the day-care center, said she had picked up rat droppings there and expressed concern to administra­tors about the health hazards. She worked at the center from April 2021 until August. She said she left in part because of concerns about health conditions linked to the rat problem over several weeks this summer.

“There have been sightings of more than 15 rats in a two-month period, and they told the teachers to stay in the classroom with feces and dead rats,” she said.

Officials at the day-care center have sent letters to parents and staffers acknowledg­ing the problem and said steps have been taken to get rid of the rodents.

The Office of the Chief Administra­tive Officer did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for the Committee on House Administra­tion refused to answer any questions about the situation and referred calls to the chief administra­tive officer.

And the director of the childcare center did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment.

Rat experts said that it is often tough to know how many rats are in a building but that usually there’s not just one. Seeing them out during the day, when they’re known as nocturnal scavengers, is usually a sign of an infestatio­n.

The day care opened a new facility in 2019 and serves children of U.S. House employees. It was intended to help meet the demand for child care, which can involve being on years-long waiting lists. The Senate has its own day-care facility.

The Hill staffer who runs the Instagram account Dear White Staffers said he was tipped off to the rat trouble in mid-august by staffers at the center who sent him photos of a dead rat in a classroom, rodent droppings and traps in the center.

The Office of the Chief Administra­tive Officer issued a statement to ABC7 saying it had been “working closely with the Architect of the Capitol and the Office of the Attending Physician’s environmen­tal health staff since early July to investigat­e and address reports of rodent sightings and activity with the assistance of a contracted pest management company.”

The statement went on to say that there had been no reports, sightings or evidence of rodents at the center since mid-august and that “all necessary actions have been and will continue to be taken to address any health and safety concerns.”

According to letters from daycare director Paige Beatty to families in mid-july and mid-august, there had been “a recent increase in rodent activity” in a part of the center, including a rodent seen in an adult bathroom, another caught in a trap overnight, and one seen in a classroom bathroom while children were on the playground. Officials at the day-care center said several steps also had been taken to deal with the rats, including “frequent and rigorous inspection­s,” increased trash removal to ensure that food doesn’t remain in containers overnight, and better sanitation efforts.

They said they also hired a pest management company and put in “rodent-proof sealing to plumbing” and replaced missing ceiling tiles — openings, experts said, where rodents can easily get inside a building.

 ?? Dear White STAFFERS ?? A dead rat that reportedly was at the U.S. House of Representa­tives Day Care Center in Southwest Washington.
Dear White STAFFERS A dead rat that reportedly was at the U.S. House of Representa­tives Day Care Center in Southwest Washington.

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