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No state laws for bed bugs in schools, local pest expert gives prevention advice

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WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- There are no Wisconsin laws regarding bed bugs and schools, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

CBS 58 is digging deeper into the issue after a Waukesha County elementary school told its parents that the bugs were found on a student's coat and backpack. 

The nuisance sparked one mother to keep her children out of school. 

”I feel terrible for the family," mother Rachel Wiseman said. "I know this isn’t because of the way they live or anything.”

Magee Elementary School Principal Sue Sterner told CBS 58 they have no infestation, and are still allowing students to come to class.

“We’re asking for grace and understanding as these families take care of what’s happening in their home," Sterner said.

Glenn McCullough, owner of ASAP Bed Bug Detection, said the pest quickly become immune to pesticides.

“This is not a rich or poor problem. They’re everywhere," McCullough said.

He said parents should inspect their child’s clothing and book bags, and remember the power of heat.

“Wash and then dry the clothes on high heat. It’s the drying that kills the bugs," he advised. “If you get them up to 120-degrees and the heat stays there for 20 minutes, it kills the bugs.”

The state’s School Nurse, Louise Wilson, said they use EPA guidelines for best practices.

However without specific rules for schools, McCullough feels it puts public school administrators in a tough spot.

“How does a school say to somebody, ‘You’ve got a bed bug problem in your house. You need to spend $1,000 to $2,000 to get rid of it before your kids can come back to this school? The schools don’t have that power," he said.

As one might imagine, dealing with bed bugs can be embarrassing for a child.

And that’s something McCullough said adults should remember when trying to stop the spread of the pests.

“Children’s egos, and children’s psyches are fragile enough. And you want to try and protect them as much as possible.”

Magee’s principal said they’re being proactive in fighting the bed bugs.

The EPA has guidelines on how to prevent and get rid of bed bugs. To review the agency's report, click here.

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