Most school cafeterias don't close for roaches

News4Jax pulls unsatisfactory Duval Co. school cafeteria inspection reports

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Two Duval County schools are back open after being temporarily closed because of bugs. The school district itself -- not inspectors -- closed the cafeterias at Crystal Springs and Sadie Tillis Elementary schools after roaches were found. 

Sadie Tillis closed Jan. 26 and was able to reopen soon after -- on Jan. 31. Crystal Springs was closed Jan. 24, but the district says it took that opportunity to do needed maintenance and upgrades already planned for a later date. Because it took that time, that cafeteria didn’t reopen until Feb. 23.

We've learned, just because roaches are found near food at a child’s school, that doesn’t guarantee a closure. News4Jax pulled recent cafeteria inspection reports and found 11 schools out of 197 were unsatisfactory. Of those 11, inspectors noted two cafeterias had bugs, But they were never closed.

Longtime inspector Adeline Dobson is the environmental supervisor for Duval County. She tells us there must be an imminent threat at a school for Duval County inspectors to close a cafeteria. Dobson has inspected hundreds of building and says she cannot remember a time when county inspectors had to close a cafeteria.

"It would be if there's a major infestation inside the facility," Dobson explained.

Whether it's an Infestation or just a few bugs, parents we spoke with feel uneasy about pests being around their kids' food.

"We don't have roaches at our home, so at school, it's a big issue," said parent Darron Wesley.

"It's very important that they remedy the problem so there are no more instances of roaches or vermin, if you will," said another Duval County parent Tashia Carr.

Here’s what we found in those 11 unsatisfactory inspections:

  • On Jan. 27, 2017, an inspector found roaches and roach droppings in the kitchen at Sabal Palm Elementary
  • On Jan. 31, 2017, an inspector found roaches in the light shield and on glue boards at S.P. Livingston Elementary

Dobson tells News4Jax there's a reason why these schools remained open, despite the bugs.

"Those are issues where we notice a problem. We issue a recheck date a week later," Dobson explained.

During that time between the problem found and the recheck, the school district calls in exterminators. Dobson points out it's a different process than what's typically done in restaurants.

"Pesticides are used as a last resort and not strong pesticides," she said.

Dobson explains the school district tries not to expose children to pesticides, so exterminators look for the source.

"Vermin, roaches, rodents, whatever, they need a food source and a water source," she said.

Bugs also need a way to get inside. Any openings into the building are located and then repaired while exterminators use bait traps to track the bugs. Afterwards, Dobson says parents can count on this.

"They can definitely rest assured that definitely those kitchens are in really great shape," she said.

In the remaining nine unsatisfactory reports, the violations noted included items like refrigeration issues, problems with food containers and lack of hot water. You can read all 11 of the unsatisfactory reports below. 


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