The Fraser Health Authority has laid out several recommendations to help rat proof New Westminster Secondary School, after a dead rat was found in the ceiling of a classroom last week.
Alex Kwan, an environmental health officer with Fraser Health, toured the school along with a representative from WorkSafe B.C. and school district staff last Friday. Fraser Health visited the school after recieiving a com-plaint from the public, spokesperson Tasleem Juma told The Record.
"We were made aware of a complaint and our program contacted the school and requested the meeting," Juma said.
Paul Johansen, a New Westminster parent who has been critical of the school district, forwarded an email from Kwan.
Johansen has a daughter who plans to attend the high school next year, and he is concerned about the rat issue at the high school.
Kwan's email lays out the recommendations he made to the district after his visit.
"Following my inspection of NWSS last Friday, I had discussions with SD40 administrative staff on this matter. I was informed that SD40's rodent control program (RCP) has been in use since March 2011. Their RCP includes the use of rodenti-cide as a last resort when necessary and only on the exterior of the school," Kwan wrote. "At the time of my inspection, there were no signs of rodents, and it appeared that sanitation was well-maintained."
Rodent control measures are implemented by "knowledgeable maintenance staff, however at this time they do not have up-to-date certificates in pesticide application," his email said.
Kwan wrote that he was told the school district will use the services of a professional pest control company to assist staff in handling situations they are having difficulty addressing.
He suggested the district retain the services of a pest control company to assess the district's rodent control program for adequacy; provide training for one or more district maintenance staff in pesticide application and maintain the certification on a yearly basis.
Kwan recommended the district maintain a log/record of all rodent incidents; install door sweeps and wire mesh in certain areas and seal the gap around the large pipe that passes through the wall in Room 138 - where the dead rat was found.
Fraser Health also recommended the district ensure the dumpster lids by the bubble gym are kept closed to avoid attracting rodents and that it change the type of "rodenticide."
"Aside from my recommendations, I also advocated for all NWSS staff to continue their assistance in implementing the RCP (i.e. reporting of rodent activity and concerns)," Kwan wrote.
This isn't the first time Fraser Health has visited the high school about rodent concerns.
In 2007, after being contacted by the public, the agency inspected and found evidence of rodents.
Evidence of rodents were found "throughout the school," said the 2007 report by Kwan.
The issue of the dead rat surfaced on Nov. 6, when the decomposing rodent was discovered.
Students were moved to another room while the situation was dealt with.
A number of people have noted that they have either seen rats or evidence of rats at the high school, including the New Westminster Teachers' Union president Grant Osborne, who said recently that teachers told him about rat concerns earlier this fall.
The president of CUPE Local 409 Marcel Marsolais told The Record last week that the age of the building - it's more than 50 years old - is a significant part of the problem. Parents in new Westminster have been waiting for more than a decade to have a new school built. www.twitter.com/ nikimhope
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