Students are being forced out of their classrooms at a New Hampshire elementary school after hundreds of bats were found in the walls. Now, remediation is underway and it could take well into next year.
It turns out the bats have been living in the walls of Merrimack Elementary School for years. Crews will have to remove and replace two stories of brick on three walls of the school’s newest addition to make the wing safe for students again.
Chloe and Cooper Hardy knew something wasn’t right inside their classrooms at James Mastricola Upper Elementary School.
"You could kind of smell it, it was weird and gross," Chloe said.
Their keen smell led to a shocking discovery.
"I’ve never seen anything like this," said Assistant Superintendent Matt Shevenell.
Critter Control Owner Jesse Fraser is leading the remediation project. He’s found a couple bats hibernating in the walls and his team has found evidence that more than 100 bats have been making this their home, every summer, for upwards of a decade.
He says there is nothing school leaders could’ve done to prevent it.
"Not really," he said. "Bats can get into any structure, they need about an almond-size hole."
During cleanup and construction, eight classrooms of students, including Chloe and Cooper, have been moved to other areas of the school. It’ll stay that way, at least until the middle of next month when all the work is complete and these unwanted tenants have been properly evicted.
"Let’s take our time, let’s do it right," Shevenell said. "The safety of our staff and students is top priority right now."
And Chloe and Cooper say they’re in no rush to get back to their old classrooms.
"Not really, I like this one better," Chloe said laughing.
Air quality testing did show low levels of a fungus found in bird droppings. but administrators say the health risks are minimal and no one has reported getting sick.