Parents in Plymouth, Massachusetts, are concerned after learning about reports of rats at South Elementary School.
The thought of rats anywhere near where her children learn and play was enough for Doris Duquette to keep them home Monday. She said she received a concerning message from a teacher.
"It said, 'Do your kiddos buy school lunch?' and I'm like, 'This is strange,'" she said.
According to Duquette, that teacher went on to say, "Our furry friends got to the food, thought I might let you know."
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Duquette asked her children if they had heard of any rats at school.
"Her teacher had told the class that she came in the morning, she left her lunch out on the desk, and went and did whatever, came back, and she found a rat on her desk eating her lunch," Duquette said.
The mother said she reached out to other teachers and parents and heard more disturbing tales.
"A teacher had a ceiling tile fall onto her desk during a meeting, rat poop went everywhere," Duquette said. "Thankfully, no students were in the room at the time."
More on rat problems
She said another teacher indicated rats have been spotted at school for weeks.
Karen Keane, director of the Plymouth Health Department, told NBC10 Boston that it received 16 reports about rats in the school over the weekend.
Monday morning, parents received an automated phone message from Principal Dan Harold.
"I know some of you heard that we have a small rodent issue here at South Elementary," he said in the message. "The district contracts with a pest control company that monitors all of our schools and has been dealing with it. But we've opted to hire a company that specializes in this area. They have worked with many school districts across Massachusetts. They were here last week assessing the situation and began this morning to extinguish the problem."
"Why today, after what you've just said, is school still in session?" Duquette asked. "Why are there kids over there right now? If they don't know how many rats, why are kids at school? So upsetting."
In an email to a parent, Harold said there are traps set around the perimeter of the school. Keane said filters in the HVAC system have been changed. They ensured no pesticides would be used and that the company would be on site daily to monitor the problem before students arrive.