A primary school has been forced to install washing machines to boil wash its pupils’ clothes in a desperate attempt to end a lingering outbreak of bedbug infestations.

St Bride’s Primary in Strathbungo, Glasgow, has already paid thousands of pounds to repeatedly decontaminate it of pests brought in from the local community.

Now, in a dramatic attempt to clean up the ongoing crisis in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency, Glasgow City Council plans to spend thousands more in its latest bid to exterminate the infestations.

Equipment and decontamination teams have been drafted in to tackle the crisis, along with providing education to local families on hygiene issues.

The Herald can also reveal a member of staff at the school was paid compensation by the city council after suffering an outbreak of bedbug bites.

It is understood the insects then spread to the person’s home, with part of the undisclosed sum of cash intended for the replacement of furniture.

Two washing machines are now to be installed on site with a view to ensuring pupils can have clothes cleansed.

It is hoped the additional measures will help kill the insects at source and prevent further outbreaks within the community.

Warnings about bedbugs and advice had been offered to parents at the school as early as 2015.

However, that did not prevent an infestation at St Bride’s last year, with pest control dealing with the issue on at least three occasions throughout the year.

That problem was first raised with pest control in March 2018, with further visits in May and December.

So far this year, a further two decontaminations of the school have taken place, with two more pencilled in during the summer break.

Detailed in the document are suggestions that the school may need to be chemically treated every fortnight to tackle the problem.

That involves a process costing as much as £3,000 per visit, as well as a requirement for children to store coats in ziplock bags at school. 

However, Glasgow City Council says this has not been followed through. 

HeraldScotland: St Bride's primary school, Craigie street, GlasgowSt Bride's primary school, Craigie street, Glasgow

Following the confirmation, a staff member was compensated by the council earlier this year.

It was claimed within leaked documents that all 40 staff at the school were also affected, a claim the council says it disputes. 

However, in a document seen by our sister paper the Evening Times, there are minutes of a discussion surrounding a pay-out to one staff member at the Craigie Street school following repeated fumigation on the site in 2018. 

During the meeting, headteacher Helen Mulholland reportedly referenced the “mental and emotional stress” felt by her staff, saying more support was needed to tackle the problem. 

It was also noted teachers were “working hard” to identify and aid those children affected by bedbug bites, helping families access public health services. 

However, she added there was a concern “over workload as everyone is already beyond maximum capacity”. 

Union representatives said the council was responsible for the wellbeing of pupils and staff. 

Susan Quinn, EIS Glasgow secretary, said that, while the teacher’s union could not comment on individual cases, it was “clearly the responsibility of the authority to take all appropriate action to ensure a safe and appropriate working environment for pupils and staff in all schools”.

HeraldScotland: EIS Glasgow secretary Susan Quinn said it is the responsibility of the authority to take safe and appropriate actionEIS Glasgow secretary Susan Quinn said it is the responsibility of the authority to take safe and appropriate action

A risk assessment carried out at the school showed the risk to those in the building to be “moderate”, with the potential for bites, skin irritation, infection, infestation, and stress and anxiety highlighted as dangers. 

Washing machines have been ordered to help clean the clothes of children whose families do not have available facilities and are expected to be installed in the school by August at the latest. 

The council said it had been working in the surrounding areas of Strathbungo and Govanhill as a whole to halt the spread of bedbugs. 

Before the incidents at St Bride’s, two reports of the insects were also made by staff at Annette Street Primary, less than half a mile from Craigie Street, and within the annexe of Pollokshields Primary, also in the South Side. 

A council spokeswoman said: “Council services have been working extensively in Govanhill to deal with pest control issues, both responding to calls from the public and undertaking pro-active block-by-block treatment programmes.

“To get fully on top of this issue we all have a role to play, including the media, and continue to ask for further cooperation from landlords and residents to ensure treatments are as effective as possible.

“Supporting our children and our staff are a top priority and while challenging for all, we are working with a number of agencies to do all we can to put measures in place that will help the school manage the situation.”

However, councillors and community groups are calling for further support to be offered to those affected by the pests. 

Bailie Soryia Siddique, councillor for Southside Central, said: “These revelations are deeply concerning.

“As a local councillor, I have continually been raising concerns about the infestation in the area, and the very real impacts that it has on those who live and work in the area. It is unacceptable that children and staff are being exposed to this infestation while at school.

“This response is complacent and this administration must do better. We need co-ordinated action from the council and others, including the Scottish Government, to tackle this problem. This should be a number one priority – because it certainly is for the people who live and work there. 

“This area is represented by Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament – there is absolutely no excuse for this complacency.”

Ms Sturgeon’s office was contacted for comment on Wednesday night. 

READ MORE: Govanhill won’t lose sleep over bed bugs

Mhairi Hunter, SNP councillor for the area, said: “I have been kept updated about the situation in St Bride’s and understand that there have been no active sightings in the school since January and no additional staff have been affected.

“I have been assured measures have been put in place in the school to mitigate against the risk of further outbreaks and support for staff is available. These measures will remain in place until the problem is fully eradicated.

“St Bride’s is an outstanding local school and staff are working closely with families, in partnership with other agencies, to educate and address the issue, along with a wider block treatment programme in place in the local area.”

Alongside the active measures put in place by the council, those living in the area believe that greater support is need for the area to tackle the existing poverty, as well as more support for those in the school. 

A spokeswoman for Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council said: “This school is in an area of high poverty and social inequalities.

“What is needed here is for greater resources and support for the schoolchildren and the school.”

A council spokeswoman added: “Our schools play an active and important role in many different issues affecting their local community – offering support and advice to their families far beyond learning and teaching.

“The measures introduced in the school are having an impact with no active sightings in the school since January and no additional staff affected. 

“This must be done as sensitively as possible so that there is no stigma for our children and families.

“This includes hosting information sessions – inviting along other professionals, as appropriate – to help educate families with problems affecting their homes that can sometimes have an impact on schools.”