Swampscott High School is taking extensive measures as an attempt to rid the school of rodents, a problem which began when a teacher left candy in her desk over the summer.
One of the major causes of the rodent infestation is students’ and teachers’ neglect of food and drink policies. When asked about the effectiveness of restrictions on eating in classrooms Assistant Principle, Frank Kowalski said: “In a perfect world people would throw out their food, but teachers leave candy in their desks— kids leave food lying around. We need to be more diligent.” Similarly, head janitor, George Arrington stressed: “The biggest thing to help control this is kids containing their food and eating in appropriate places.”
Mr. Arrington was also very clear that there are only mice in the school: “If we had rats they would leave a lot of evidence. They can chew through almost anything and they would leave large holes in the wood.”
Because of the amount of people at the school at all times, however, it is impossible to hire an exterminator, so the school has looked towards alternative deterrents. The custodians are using sticky traps, peppermint oil spray, and frequency devices to keep the mice away. Additionally, the school is being extremely careful to make sure none of the preventative measures in place can hurt students. Super Catchmaster traps are being employed as a substitute for the harmful poison used by exterminators.
The cafeteria staff, equally cautious of the rodent infiltration, has managed to keep mice from the kitchen. The director of dinning services, Maureen Kellett wrote in an email: “I can tell you we do not have a rodent problem in the cafeteria. The maintenance staff told us about an issue in the high school and as a precaution we moved any food item from the storage room that was not in a can or plastic container into the refrigerator.”
Despite a variety of methods targeted at preventing mice from entering the school, the persistent vermin can slide under just about any door, making it extremely difficult for janitors to prevent the invasion. Mr. Arrington explained: “[the rodent problem] is because we live next to the woods, and there are so many people and a lot of food. The hardest part is there are so many nooks and crannies we can’t pin point just one entry site.”
On multiple occasions mice have managed to get into classrooms while class was in session. When this happens custodians have had to work quickly, bringing traps to corner the mouse or using a bucket to scoop it up.
Occasionally, students have even helped in the difficult task of confining and capturing the speedy creatures. Tristan Smith, senior at Swampscott High School, assisted Mr. Arrington in catching a mouse in the TV studio. Following the capture of the rodent, Tristan explained the sanitary precautions the TV students took: “We threw out the couch the mouse was in and we ceased eating in the room.”
In response to the collective efforts of the entire Swampscott High School staff the number of mice has been steadily decreasing. When asked if the problem was going away Mr. Arrington reassuringly said “oh yeah, I haven’t seen a mouse in a week.”