MARION — Wednesday classes were canceled at Marion High School so that the facility can be professionally inspected for bedbugs, indicated Marion Community Unit School District No. 2 in a message to parents posted to its Facebook page Tuesday evening.
The infestation is thought to be contained to two adjacent classrooms, said Superintendent Keith Oates. Those rooms were already closed off and scheduled for treatment well before the district decided to close school.
The decision to cancel, Oates said, was "a precautionary measure."
Bedbugs were first detected in the two classrooms on Friday, Oates said, and the rooms were treated on Saturday, then reopened on Monday. However, the pests reappeared, Oates said, so the rooms were closed again Monday for more treatment.
The district first notified parents on Tuesday afternoon, Oates indicated. The notification acknowledged that “less than five students in two adjacent classrooms” had bedbugs, but said classes remained in session.
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By the time parents were alerted, the issue was already being discussed on Facebook.
Oates saw two incorrect Facebook posts before parents were informed, he said, one exaggerating the extent of the infestation and another falsely claiming the school had encouraged parents to pick up their children.
By late morning Tuesday, several hours before parents were officially alerted, “several hundred students” were pulled from school by their parents, Oates said.
The school continues to believe the bedbug issue is isolated to the two previously treated classrooms, it indicated to parents in the cancellation announcement.
“We apologize for this inconvenience and will update parents/guardians with a follow up call tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, November 20th,” the post reads. “Thank you for your patience and understanding.”