Rodent outbreak at GJHS

Precautions taken on the lingering mice


Jacob Feller leaning on the empty vending machines

Grand Junction High School is taking precautions due to the astounding number of mice discovered in the main building. Although mice have been in GJHS for years, an excessive amount of mice have recently entered the building.

For the next three weeks, the GJHS staff is expected to remove and dispose of all food except food locked in sealed containers. Staff must clean out refrigerators and microwaves and are not allowed any food parties or food-related cultural lessons. Students can only eat in classrooms if they plan to clean and remove what is left behind. 

All food was removed from vending machines due to the lingering mice crawling up the machines, causing holes in packaging and absent food. Even though this school has always had mice, “mice climbing into the vending machines was a new thing for us,” said GJHS Principle Meghan Roenicke. “The food in the vending machines will come back; we are just trying to decrease the number of mice for the next three weeks so that we get to the point where there are as few as possible.”

During parent-teacher conferences the evening of Thursday, Feb. 9, the mice went wild starting in the upper level of the main building; it was unpleasant for parents and teachers because the mice traps kept going off. But beware, “The mice are everywhere and migrate anywhere that there is food,” Roenicke said.

“The big concern is that mice can carry diseases. The hantavirus is the disease brought up and is what people are mainly concerned about”, said Roenicke. 

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents. The symptoms of this virus are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, fatigue, and fever.

 “Deer mice carry this disease, but all of the mice that we have trapped and found have been field mice, which is a different species that does not carry the hantavirus,” said Roenicke. 

GJHS is doing everything possible to remove mice from the building. The school is having traps set, cleaning surfaces, using disinfecting sprayers, and disposing of items that are not needed. Pest control experts made precautions not to leave anything out. They plan to decrease the number of mice using these methods. 

The question was raised about Grand Junction High School closing. Clint Garcia, the executive director of operations for Mesa Valley School District 51, was onsite to evaluate the situation and determined it was not severe enough to close the school. If teachers felt uncomfortable when the outbreak was discovered, they were encouraged to request a substitute teacher to take a day off.

The mice outbreak has gotten severe enough that Mesa County Valley School District 51 has informed parents about the increase in mice throughout the school building. They have announced to the parents and students that the mice outbreak might be unsettling to hear, but they have reassured them that their teams are working diligently on the issue and will continue to address it until it is resolved.