Crews Make Progress Removing Bats From Clemson Elementary - WSPA.com

Crews Make Progress Removing Bats From Clemson Elementary

Posted:
By Robin Kanady, Wspa Staff

Updated: February 15, 2012

Crews continue to make progress to eradicate bats from Clemson Elementary School.

Julie Thompson, of the Pickens County Schools, says they do the work on the weekends to get everything done.

As of Monday morning, the exterior work was completed.  They are still doing inspections, but most of the work has been completed. 

Posted: January 24, 2012

Clemson Elementary School Principal Dr. Ken Weichel says bat removal companies estimate there could be between 50-200 bats inside an inner wall in the gym at Clemson Elementary in the Pickens County School District. Weichel says it appears the bats are coming in along the eaves of the roof of the gym, where there are some bricks missing.

District officials are working with local bat experts on the problem right now, and they say if the weather remains warm, they may be able to remove the bats sooner than anticipated. School officials say the original projection was March or April. DNR officials say the warm weather keeps the bats awake and active.

The gym has been closed to staff and students since January 13. Julie Thompson, spokesperson for the district, says prior to that date, the district is not aware of any contact between the bats and the staff and students. Thompson says DHEC is advising the district that the health hazards are slim, unless there is a tremendous amount of bat feces, which school officials say is not the case.

Bats can carry rabies. DNR says if you see a bat, avoid touching it, try to trap it in a container and take it outside to let it fly away. If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, seek medical attention immediately. Also report the incident to your local DHEC office.

You can't see the bats in the gym. But school officials say they are hiding out, sleeping inside an inner wall in the gym. 

P.E. teacher Maggie Young describes the sound the bats are making. She says, “Just the high pitch screeching noises you always hear in movies or what not, and it’s pretty irritating.” Bats invaded the school’s gym. Young says, “I've actually seen a couple (bats), had one close encounter with one actually, landed on my grade book.” 

It didn't take long for school officials to figure out where they think the bats are coming from. Principal Dr. Ken Weichel points to the eaves of the roof of the gym, saying, “Probably right up there by the eaves. The roof is not locked down tight.” 

Dr. Weichel says experts estimate between 50 and 200 bats are in the gym. Dr. Weichel says, “They (the experts) think we've caught it pretty early, and they (the bats) haven't sent out invitations to their friends yet.” 

DHEC says as long as the gym stays closed, there does not appear to be a health risk. But officials are warning people to be careful around bats, since they do carry rabies. 

And there are also health risks associated with bat feces or guano. Dr. Weichel says, “To really be a danger to children, it (guano) has to be thick and prevalent everywhere. We've never found any guano inside the building.” 

The school district is taking bids from local companies to put in devices to ensure that once the bats fly out, they won't come back in. Until then, Maggie Young's will be teaching P.E. in a music classroom. 

Young says, “It's (moving classrooms has) been an adjustment and especially for the kids. The kids are having a hard time adjusting.” 

But a little inconvenience will go a long way in making sure neither she nor the students have another bat encounter. 

School officials hope to get experts in this weekend to begin removing the bats. But companies have told officials that it could take until the spring to get all the bats out. However, DNR says the recent warm weather will likely wake the bats up and get them flying out. And as soon as the bat removal devices are set, the bats won’t be able to return.

 

 

 

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