A batty situation in Merrimack

Eight Mastricola classrooms closed off after bat feces was discovered

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart Crews work to rid an area of bat feces at James Mastricola Upper Elementary School in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

MERRIMACK – Eight elementary school classrooms have been closed and sectioned off at James Mastricola Upper Elementary School in Merrimack due to a report of an odor that was later identified as bat feces.

Originally, a teacher reported the odor in a classroom around Nov. 21.

“We had our maintenance crew go around and look. Initially, we thought it was a dead mouse,” Matt Shevenell, assistant superintendent for business said.

They were able to isolate the odor to a window jam, and then called in Marvel Plate Glass Inc., who came out to look in the cavity between the exterior brick wall and the inside block. Between each wall, there is a cavity and, to their surprise, more than just insulation was discovered. It was then that they identified the source of the smell, bat feces.

After making the discovery, they called Critter Control of New Hampshire and a stone mason to take out that section of the exterior brick wall.

Shevenell said they made those calls last Tuesday or Wednesday, and since then, crews have tented off the outside wall, sealed off the affected areas and moved kids to other classrooms.

They’re currently utilizing science classrooms

until the situation can be remedied.

At this time they also called in RPF Environmental Inc. because of concerns regarding air quality.

“They determined the feces weren’t in a condition where it’ll be air born. At that time, we sealed off areas, moved kids and all HVAC systems were shut down as work commenced,” Shevenell said.

He said masons have been taking down bricks, and the area remains tented off on the exterior of the building.

“We’re hoping as we keep working, with the crew here over the weekend, that by the end of next week or the following week we would have remediated everything that’s there,” Shevenell said.

He said after that, they’ll have Critter Control sanitize the area and have air tests done. It may be a couple weeks before things are resolved; however, right now, they’re taking bricks off until they’re sure that everything is gone.

Although they haven’t discovered any bats, dead or alive, the plan going forward is to install tubes with a one-way gate

so, if in case any bats were to fly out, they can’t get back in.

“Right now, our first priority is the safety of the kids and staff in the building,” Shevenell said.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashua