'Major problem' with fleas forces 2 Oakland schools to close

Two elementary schools in Oakland will be temporarily closed for cleaning to get rid of a flea infestation, school officials said.

Closing Esperanza Elementary School and Korematsu Discovery Academy in East Oakland for two days "comes after a major problem developed with fleas on the campus," the Oakland Unified School District said in a statement Wednesday.

The schools, which are on the same campus, possibly attracted fleas via raccoons that inhabit the area, the district said. 

"We never want to close down a school, especially after the last year and a half we all experienced with COVID-19, but this is necessary to keep the school facilities safe for the Esperanza and Korematsu communities," said OUSD Chief Systems and Services Officer, Preston Thomas.

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Since the problem first arose, the district has been working with exterminators to eradicate the fleas. Unfortunately, the issue has persisted despite these efforts.

The district decided to close the elementary schools to students and staff on Thursday and Friday. The temporary closure will prevent fleas from spreading throughout the entire campus, and it will give treatments applied over the last two weeks more time to take effect, officials said. 

Plus, it will allow crews to do a deeper cleaning of all classrooms and common areas, including removing all carpets where fleas have taken up residence and laid their eggs.

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