Hart Co. Elementary Students Out of School Today Courtesy of Bat Infestation

November 8, 2013

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia


Students at Hartwell Elementary School have the day off due to some unusual circumstances.

According to school officials, bats are nesting in a corner crawl space at one end of the school building.

Hart County Assistant School Superintendent Kathy Leard said school officials met with concerned parents students to re-assure them and explain the removal process.

“We had a meeting Tuesday night and talked to many concerned parents and that went well,” Leard said Wednesday afternoon. “But then we concluded that in order for our exclusion of bats to continue and to expedite that process and do any cleaning that needs to be done, it would be better if students and staff were out of the way, so school will be closed Thursday and Friday.”

Leard said the school is working with the Hart County Health Department’s Environmental Health Division, who recommended a bat removal service.

This time, Leard said the wildlife removal company is working to make sure the bats are gone for good by putting up screens and filling in all areas where the bats have been getting in.

According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, a bat infestation can be a health hazard.

Not only do bats carry the rabies virus, but their excrement can cause a lung disease called histoplasmosis.

District II Public Health spokesman Dave Palmer said however, students at Hartwell Elementary were in little danger of contracting any sort of illness from the bat infestation.

“Most of the time, when it’s in a building, unless it’s been there for a long time where the fungus can actually grow from the bat guano, it’s not as much of a threat,” Palmer said. “So at this time, we don’t think it’s a threat and it’s being taken care of pretty promptly.”

This is not the first time bats have infested the Hartwell Elementary School building, according to Hart County School Superintendent Jerry Bell who said he’s had to remove bats there on three other occasions.