Bat and Veto Crazy

editorial-logo3Last week was a week of bats and vetoes. And, while neither are necessarily strangers to Jefferson County, they are also not the most welcome guests at the dinner table. In case you haven’t heard, Maury Middle School has bats. No that is not a euphemism for something. They really have bats, if not in their belfry, at least in their sixth grade wing. Bats are fairly common place in the area and we have all seen them flying around at night. They actually kill mosquitoes and other creepy crawly things and for that we should be grateful. But, they have no place in a classroom and that is where they have been found, both dead and alive. Now, I know that other schools in the County have bats. If those bats find their way into classrooms or if their guano or urine is coming through the ceiling tiles, then it is time to do something.

Despite those that would make light of the bat issue at Maury, it is a serious problem. It is not common for bats to end up, dead or alive, in classrooms. Bats can carry rabies and their droppings can have other serious health impacts, especially to those already suffering from other ailments. It requires specialized equipment and removal to make sure that the clean up isn’t as dangerous as the bats themselves. And, that is where I have a problem. Why did the Department of Education not hire a group that specializes in this type of clean up to handle the job at Maury Middle School? I know that they hired a local company and I think that is great. I believe in hiring local when you can and I also think the company they hired is a good company with a good reputation. But, they just don’t specialize in bat clean up. That is why they don’t have the equipment for air quality testing and are having to have it brought in from elsewhere. I suspect that is why they closed off the place that the bats were entering the building and in the Department of Education’s Representative’s words “ trapping” some bats in the building. Professionals that specialize in this type of removal have a type of apparatus that they use that allows the bats to exit without allowing re entry. I know because I checked with several in the greater Knoxville area. They also wear special uniforms and gloves for safety. Now, as it sits, the bats and their guano and urine have been polluting the air at Maury Middle School for weeks and the air quality testing still isn’t done. Surely by the time they get around to it, the air will be clean or the students will be out of school.

Bats are hanging around outside the building just waiting for something. Are they waiting for their friends to relocate to another part of the building and find another exit/entry? Maybe their bat friends will just hang out until birthing season,which is about upon us? The DOE cannot help that bats decided to take up residence at Maury or any other school. What they can do is be upfront about the things that impact the health and safety of students and they can quickly and professionally have the situation dealt with, including air testing.

As for the veto, I really didn’t see that one coming. The resolution in question was a recommendation at most and at the least it was just another piece of paper for the shredder. Save the veto for something important. I suppose what we have this week is much ado about nothing with the veto and not doing much or at least enough with the bats.

This week the budget season continues with Charitable Organizations which include Fire Departments. If history is any indication, it could be an interesting (and by interesting I mean long) evening. Might be good night to do a little bat watching. I have it on good authority that I won’t even need a belfry.

Source: K. Depew, News Director

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