Upon returning to the Schurr High School in Montebello, California, teachers were shocked to find they already had visitors - rats leaving faeces and causing damage in various classrooms, CBS news station KCAL reported.
Someone was even able to catch at least one large rat on camera as it scuttled across one of the classrooms.
“It’s not safe, it is absolutely a health issue,” said Al Cuevas, a social studies teacher.
“Some of the rooms were completely taken over by rats,” he told the news station.
One rat was caught on camera YouTube/ CBS Los Angeles
It is hoped that the school will be able to reopen in 15 days, interim superintendent Dr Mark Skvarna told The Los Angeles Times. However, this date has not been completely set.
Monday was supposed to mark the return of face-to-face teaching since the Covid pandemic started back in March 2020.
Some of the parents have blamed the fiasco on the school’s administration and Montebello Unified School District, and claim both parties were aware of the problem before families were informed of the delay on Friday.
Nadine Garcia, a parent in the district, said her daughter was set to begin high school that day believes “They totally could’ve been more prepared to start,” she told KCAL.
“That was very aggravating,” she added, “And since then, today, I have tried to call the district and the school. No answer.”
Some photographed the damaged caused by the rats YouTube/ CBS Los Angeles
In a letter to parents obtained by KCAL, it says the “rodents were found” after an evaluation of the school’s ductwork and HVAC systems “due to the type of construction and cleanup work, we will not be able to utilize the C-Building” and the staff and student were “unable to be relocated safely” at this time.
A delay to the start of school was described as “the best course of action” and decided “out of an abundance of caution,” though certain areas of campus will remain open.
David Navar, the president of the Montebello Teachers Association called the whole thing a “tragedy.”
He added: “It’s a disaster for our students who are losing out on valuable instructional days.”
“We’re talking even years back,” teacher and faculty president Paul Chavez told the Times. “It was a noticeable issue.”
He added, “I just felt like band-aids were put on this situation when a little bit more attention needed to be addressed.”
While Skvarna accepts more should have been done by the district to solve the rodent problem ahead of the return to school, he only started his role in March, the newspaper shared. His addition came after a financial report determined the Montebello Unified School District ran a high risk of insolvency.
“I’m not going to make excuses that this stuff was done as well as it could have been done,” Skvarna told the Times. “I don’t believe it was done as well as it could have been done.”
Skvarna added that the district is doing its utmost to “get these facilities up to standards.”
“I believe we need to put effort and money into it,” he said. “I don’t believe it’s been a priority.”