A cockroach infestation that has been ongoing at Old Mill Road School since the spring has seen improvements over the past few weeks, said North Merrick Superintendent David Feller, but parents remain concerned about potential health issues.
The district began addressing the infestation in the spring using bait traps and glue boards. According to Feller, cockroaches have surfaced at Old Mill Road before, but routine treatments addressed the problem. In this case, though, the infestation was more severe.
Because of growing alarm from parents, Feller and other district officials met with PTA officers and parents during a Sept. 21 meeting to address the situation. Since then, the district has increased its number of bait traps and glue boards, and has consulted experts and hired outside vendors to sanitize the building. Old Mill Road Principal Laura DeLuca, whom Feller said has been active in addressing the issue, was not present at the meeting owing to a death in the family.
The district is also drilling holes in the wall and inserting boric acid, an inorganic compound that acts as a stomach poison in cockroaches. Boric acid is within the guidelines of the Integrated Pest Management Program allowed by the New York state law, said Feller. It is not hazardous to humans unless swallowed in excess.
Joann Garcia, the Old Mill Road PTA president, said she is getting constant phone calls and emails from parents expressing concerns.
"There has been progress since” Sept. 21, said Garcia. "From a PTA and parent standpoint, the parents are very upset. The parents want the bugs gone. The school administration is doing everything they can based on what New York state allows them to do. I think they are really trying their hardest.”
At the Oct. 9 North Merrick Board of Education meeting, 45 minutes of public session were devoted to the cockroach infestation. Peter LaDuca, a liaison with the Nassau BOCES Health and Safety Training and Information Service, who said he has been involved with pest control for 25 years, was on hand to answer questions.