LIVE Coverage of Quinton Tellis retrial in Jessica Chambers murder

‘Act of nature’ causes Kirby High to shut down until problem is eradicated

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Kirby High School will be closed another six to eight weeks so they can "fully eradicate" the ongoing pest issue.

During a press briefing on Thursday, Hopson called the incident an "unavoidable act of nature" and said they trapped more than 70 rodents in the building, so far.

"We brought the health department in, because we didn't want to have any students or employees returning back into the building unless we were sure it was safe."

Kirby was closed last week as pest control contractors tried to eradicate a rat problem at the school. Students and faculty had complained about seeing rats, roaches and even a snake inside the school.

The school reopened Tuesday, but was closed again by the district Thursday and Friday after SCS said signs of a pest issue were found in another part of the building. There were also complaints about the smell, possibly from decomposing rodents.

"But essentially, what we found out was that rodents were still dying," Hopson said. "You may contain the stench in one wing, but then they'll go somewhere else and die."

We found out what caused the pest problem at the school was a rat nest being disturbed in a greenhouse by the building.

SCS has already spent $70,000 trying to fumigate the building.

They're hiring more pest control professionals and expect to spend tens of thousands more as well.

As for the students, they're exploring other options for temporary classrooms - like Hickory Ridge Mall and Southside High School.

Their goal is to not separate them or cause a burden with transportation. But getting a new facility could take weeks.

The issue now is how these kids are going to make up for the lost time.

Hopson says they're considering night classes, Saturday classes, online classes and long days.

"I think people have truly been working around the clock to abate what can only be described in my opinion as an unavoidable, really natural disaster."

After meeting with parents, they hope to have concrete plans to bring to the board for approval on Tuesday.