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Students displaced by rat infestation at Memphis school will attend 3 locations

While Kirby High School is being cleaned, about 800 students will attend temporary locations for the fall semester.

Students displaced from a Memphis, Tenn., high because of rat infestation will be dispersed to three different locations when classes for them resume next week.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that the Shelby County district plans to have the 800 students from Kirby High School resume classes full time on Sept. 17.

A rat infestation forced Kirby High to close for most of the past two weeks. Students were briefly allowed to return, but classes were quickly cancelled again when the infestation persisted.

The temporary student reassignments create logistical complications as students are shuttled to far-flung spots in southeast Shelby County, including a charter school, Kirby Middle and Southwind High.. 

District officials say they considered other options, including the Hickory Ridge Mall and South Side High. But the mall failed to meet regulatory requirements, and South Side High, a 30-mile round trip, was simply too far away, Assistant Superintendent Joris Ray said.

With no site in the neighborhood big enough to fit all the students, the school system opted for the three-site solution. 

Among questions that remained unanswered: How can Kirby High students return to the school to retrieve items stored in lockers? The school officials said they should have more answers soon.

Students will go back to classes for a half-day Wednesday at Hickory Ridge Middle to receive laptops  Students are expected to use their laptops for assignments on Thursday and Friday.

The three-site solution is expected to remain in place for the semester. “Right now we’re looking at the end of the semester, after Christmas break,” Ray says.

At a meeting last week, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson cited problems including rats dying and rotting within the school's walls. He said trapping the remaining rodents and cleaning up damage could take six to eight weeks.

Hopson said the issue began after a rat's nest near a greenhouse on the property was disturbed during a renovation. 

That weekend, district personnel set up traps and caught as many as 80 rats, Hopson said. The school was reopened after Labor Day, but it soon became clear the problem wasn't over.

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