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Dorr implements new changes to deal with increasing tick population

Zoe Vogelsang

Zoe Vogelsang

Megha Nelivigi and Charlie Silberstein

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Over the summer the John Dorr Nature Lab, the school’s off-campus property in Connecticut, introduced new policies to deal with the increase in tick populations and new tick-based viruses, having students shower every day and drying  their used clothing to prevent any tick bites.

“These policies are more health related than anything because we don’t want kids to come back with any type or variety of something like a tick born disease,” Director of John Dorr Nature Laboratory Glenn Sherratt said.

More ticks have been able to survive the winters than in previous years due to global warming, Sherratt said. In addition, ticks now carry more than just Lyme disease, Sherratt said. More and more ticks in the northeast are now carrying the life-threatening Powassan virus that causes inflammation to the brain.

In order to deal with the problem, Dorr has instituted new policies regarding the student’s cleanliness.

Students are now required to take showers every day, because much of the students’ time at Dorr is spent outdoors, Sherratt said. “The Dorr staff will also take any clothing the kids wear, put them in a mesh bag, and then into the dryer,” Sherratt said. “If they’re in a heated dryer for 20 minutes, it kills any ticks and anything else that might be on the clothing.”

Each student gets a separate mesh bag with a number, and each night they put their clothes from the day in to dry, William Golub (11) said, if students did not want to dry an article of clothing, they had the option to rather just put them in a separate plastic bag, he said.

In addition, there are new full-length mirrors in each shower to ensure that students check their entire bodies for ticks, Lexi Levy (10) said.

Sherratt added that these policies are strictly precautionary, but not everything can be prevented.

“There are always ways to catch diseases like in the air we breathe and almost everything else. This is part of being in the outdoors,” he said. The changes put in place are not strictly meant to deal with ticks, Sherratt said.

“There are always environmental hazards whether they’re in New York or up at Dorr. We’ve got poison ivy, we have wild animals, and now we have ticks,” he said. These are normal occurrences in nature and it is always beneficial to be cautious and aware, he said.

Ticks are prevalent not just in Dorr, but in any grassy area, Dorr Teacher Abbey Moore said. In her home in Connecticut, she once found 23 ticks on her dog, she said.

Dorr instituted these new policies in August for programs such as the 6th Grade Dorr Orientation Program, Sherratt said.

Joshua Taub (11) was relieved to hear that Dorr was being proactive regarding ticks.

“I’m happy that Dorr is now taking extra precautions, so that when I go to Dorr I won’t have to be as worried about getting ticks,” Taub said.

Levy agreed that the precautions are necessary, because of the dangerous diseases ticks carry, she said.

Others, such as Evan Buonagurio (11) and Alexa Mark (11), did not really notice the changes during their three-day training course at Dorr. 

This type of subtle, reaction was expected and desired by the Dorr staff, Sherratt said.

“It’s an extra precaution that won’t change the programs at all,” he said, “We’ve just explained that this is what we’re doing and the kids have to just deal with it.”  The policies are also not grade-specific, but uniform for every visitor of Dorr, Sherratt said. “It’s a general policy for everyone, it’s all the same for second graders through seniors,” he said.

With the new protocol, there were no problems with ticks for any of the sixth grade students, Sharrett said.

“I’d like to think it’s because we educated students on the dangers of ticks and we took all these other precautions, like putting mirrors in the showers,” he said.

TICKED OFF Dorr Staff sent this informational tick flier to parents and placed them in different places throughout the location

“I don’t want to scare the students. We just want to make sure everyone is careful so we don’t have any incidents,” he said.

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Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903
Dorr implements new changes to deal with increasing tick population