Washing machines installed at Scottish primary school to kill bed bugs

A Glasgow primary school has been forced to install washing machines in a bid to kill bedbugs.

The infestation has been going on for four years. Picture: Google Maps
The infestation has been going on for four years. Picture: Google Maps

Staff at St Bride's Primary School, in Govanhill, took drastic action to tackle the pests - following a four-year infestation - and washing machines will now be installed to boil-wash the clothes of children whose families do not have available facilities.

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No bedbugs have reportedly been seen since January, but politicians are facing calls to provide greater support. Even soft toys and cushions are at risk of being contaminated.

The school is part of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's constituency.

Exterminators have been called into the school on a regular basis since 2015, and it is feared further fortnightly visits may be required at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds.

Glasgow City Council has worked extensively with parents and teachers to ensure those requiring help to eradicate the bedbugs are directed to health and social care providers.

Officers put together an action plan outlining the possible effects bed bugs could have on those using the building.

St Bride's was given a moderate rating as a result, with ongoing monitoring to be carried out at the school.

According to the council, this rating means "efforts should be made to reduce the risk, but the costs of prevention should be carefully measured and limited".

It added: "Risk reduction measures should be implemented within a defined time period and further assessment may be necessary."

The report also states "several areas of the school" were part of the bedbugs spread, with soft toys and cushions housed at St Bride's to be washed on a regular basis to avoid contamination.

Bailie Soryia Siddique, councillor for Southside Central, said: "These revelations are deeply concerning. As a local councillor, I have continually been raising concerns about an infestation in the area, and the very real impacts that have on those who live and work in the area.

"It is quite frankly unacceptable that children and staff are being exposed to this infestation while at school.

"This response is complacent, and this administration must do better.

"We need coordinated action from the council and others, including the Scottish Government, to tackle this problem.

"This should be a number one priority - because it certainly is for the people who live and work there.

"This area is represented by Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament - there is absolutely no excuse for this complacency."

An action plan, written in conjunction with St Bride's staff, outlines measures such as additional staff hours and regular inspections by pest control which could be put in place.

The installation of lockers and the removal of furniture from the school were also suggested as options.

SNP councillor for the area, Mhairi Hunter, said: "I have been kept updated about the situation in St Bride's and understand that there have been no active sightings in the school since January and no additional staff have been affected.

"I have been assured measures have been put in place in the school to mitigate against the risk of further outbreaks and support for staff is available.

"These measures will remain in place until the problem is fully eradicated.

"St Bride's is an outstanding local school and staff are working closely with families, in partnership with other agencies, to educate and address the issue, along with a wider block treatment programme in place in the local area."

Alongside the active measures put in place by the council, those living in the area believe that greater support is needed for the area to tackle the existing poverty, as well as more support for those in the school.

A spokesman for Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council said: "This school is in an area of high poverty and social inequalities. What is needed here is for greater resources and support for the schoolchildren and the school."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Our schools play an active and important role in many different issues affecting their local community - offering support and advice to their families far beyond learning and teaching.

"The measures introduced in the school are having an impact with no active sightings in the school since January and no additional staff affected.

"This must be done as sensitively as possible so that there is no stigma for our children and families.

"This includes hosting information sessions - inviting along other professionals, as appropriate - to help educate families with problems affecting their homes that can sometimes have an impact on schools."