Pests are unwelcome in any facility, which is why many custodial department would use bait traps to kill such intruders. That was the case in Oregon schools, until a new law came into effect July 1.

The state law, which was originally passed in 2009 but went into effect this month, requires that Oregon schools try nonchemical methods for getting rid of pests both in and around schools. The practice, known as integrated pest management, allows pesticides — insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides and fungicides — to be used, but as a last rather than first resort.

The goal of a switch like this is to protect students from the disease-causing and asthma-inducing pests, as well as from the potential harm from chemical exposure.

When harsher alternatives are required, school custodians and maintenance staff must post a notice at least 24 hours prior to using chemicals, as well as notify parents of the plan. The law also requires that schools hire state licensed operators — or have their own employees get licensed — to complete the task, even if all they want to do is set out a sugar-and-boric-acid ant trap.

According to reports from The Register Guard, the new law didn’t come with extra money for schools to pay for the more labor-intensive management strategy, but officials believe that once employees are trained to keep pests out of schools, they’ll see financial benefits because they are using fewer chemicals.

The state won’t be keeping a close eye on schools to make sure they follow the plan. Oversight for compliance falls to the school district boards.

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