Agriculture Department offers pest control checklists to help schools comply with law
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Anyone applying pesticides on a school campus, whether staff or a commercial applicator, must be properly licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, according to Oregon law. (Photo by Colton Bond, Oregon Department of Agriculture)
School boards have a responsibility to ensure safe pest control, according to guidance released Tuesday by the Oregon Agriculture Department.
Oregon law has required schools to have a pest control implementation plan since 2012. The law sets minimum standards for safe usage of weed killers, insect killers, rodent bait, repellents and other pesticides. The Agriculture Department monitors compliance as well as investigates complaints.
Department officials want to clarify school boards’ duties and encourage safe practices.
Schools have unique pest control responsibilities to protect children from harmful chemicals, said Colton Bond, Oregon Agriculture Department pesticides program registration and certification specialist. School boards need to know about the School Integrated Pest Management law, he said, and commercial operators need to be reminded that there are differences from other commercial jobs.
Integrated pest management encompasses a strategy of long-term biology- and behavior-based pest solutions, such as traps and physical barriers, to minimize pesticide use.
Applicators must be licensed, even if school employees, and follow all label directions. Schools must keep records of applications.
Investigative data showed a concerning lack of implementation by Oregon schools, said Dale Mitchell, Agriculture Department pesticide program manager. He listed a few ways school governing bodies sometimes fall short:
Not assigning a coordinator or adopting an integrated pest management plan.
Not properly notifying employees or parents about applications.
Not posting the law’s requirements.
Inadequate complaint response systems.
“Instead of taking a purely regulatory approach, we would much rather do the education and outreach to assist schools,” Mitchell said.
The Agriculture Department partners with Oregon State University to provide education and training. The law requires all schools to designate a coordinator with at least six hours of training per year. A coordinator may serve more than one school.
Dave Warren, Riverdale School District’s new integrated pest management coordinator, attended training in July. Warren, the district’s head custodian, said landscaping techniques, such as keeping trees from touching buildings and trimming spaces below shrubbery, were a significant part of the informative session.
“Most of the stress was put on preventative maintenance to avoid the pest situation in the first place,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to not have to bring in chemicals.”
The health and safety of children is the No. 1 reason for integrated pest management, protecting students from disease carriers as well as dangerous pesticides, said Tim Stock, OSU integrated pest management program coordinator.
He urged school boards to give coordinators the resources and authority to carry out an integrated pest management plan.
“Long term it reduces costs and deals with the root causes of pests,” he said.