JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Jersey City’s Ferris High School is besieged by rats, and county health officials have ordered administrators to take action.
City health officials were called to Ferris High School earlier this month on complaints about rodents running through the school and found an aging garage door near a dumpster as the entrance point, The Jersey Journal reports.
Traps were placed near the door and school officials were advised to call an exterminator during a Jan. 2 inspection, but a letter sent to the news site by a school worker and a reinspection yesterday show the rat problem persists.
A “concerned staff member” who wrote in to The Jersey Journal alleges rodents continue to run through the school while students are present, and are now in the school cafeteria and eating areas.
Jersey City Board of Education spokeswoman Maryann Dickar told the news site the school was given a conditional satisfactory rating after the Jan. 2 inspection, and received the same rating Monday as the school has not fixed the door.
The garage door is expected to go in this week, Dickar said.
School board members are expected to order the school receive extensive cleaning, including “thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing dry storage areas and kitchen areas and fixing loose ceramic floor tiles,” Dickar said.
“The district will continue to monitor the situation and work to eliminate the problem,” she added.
Beyond cleaning, district officials complied with the recommendation to call in exterminators more often, and to seal the bottom of entrance doors, Dickar said.
The rat problem certainly isn’t a first for a public school.
Parents in Carrizo Springs, Texas were outraged after they learned in December of a rat problem in the Carrizo Springs Elementary School kitchen.
Images of dead rats with cases of chewed hamburger buns and dropping scattered in the kitchen prompted parents to demand answers from school officials, who provided very few, Fox 29 reports.
Parent Victoria Caballero told the news station that students “should be able to have healthy edible food in a clean kitchen.”
“If a restaurant had rats or mice, they would get closed down,” she told KENS.
About a year before that, in San Francisco, numerous schools struggled with rat problems tied to a significant increase in school food waste from “healthy” lunches promoted by first lady Michelle Obama.
According to the San Francisco Examiner:
A … review of health inspection data shows many rodent issues began in 2013, the same time more fresh food was introduced into schools as part of the food lunch reform popularized by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Examiner also cited a report by the district’s Student Nutrition Services as noting “With the increase in breakfasts served, there has been an increase in waste,” which attracts more rodents.