Discovery of a rabid bat has forced the Elko County (Nev.) district to close one of its elementary schools for at least a week and possibly several months.
The Elko Daily Free Press reports maintenance workers at Grammar No. 2 in Elko caught a bat in the ceiling last week after a teacher reporting a noise. The animal's behavior made workers suspect that it was infected with rabies, and subsequent tests came back positive.
The district has canceled the first week of classes at Grammar No. 2 while officials work to eradicate bats from the school building.
Elko County School Superintendent Jeff Zander bats have been present at the school before, but the presence of rabies has created concern from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
“The health department told us there can’t be any students in that building until all the bats are eradicated," the superintendent says.
Because the bats are migratory, they are protected from being trapped and killed. The district may have to put a new roof on the building, a project that would keep students out of the building until after Christmas break.
The district had a similar problem about 10 years ago at Owyhee Combined School.
“We had to build bat motels on the telephone poles out there so that when we displaced them, they had a place to go,” Zander says. “It was a long process. It took about four or five months to get all the bats out of the attic area so they could seal it up."
If the bat problem keeps students out of Grammar No. 2 on a long-term basis, the district would move students to Mountain View, Adobe or Northside.
Zander says the district is not rushing to make any permanent decision. A specialist is scheduled to visit the school before the end of the week to assess the situation.