Bill Flanary, the county’s director of schools, said Tuesday the gym has been closed to students and staff after “a few bats” were spotted near some light fixtures in a vestibule of the building.
“No children or adults have come in contact with a bat — living or dead,” Flanary said.
He said school officials have been in contact with the Tennessee Wildlife Agency to determine how to best remove the bats from the building, off Tenn. Highway 81 South near Jonesborough.
“This may be a protected species,” Flanary said, noting professional help might be needed to relocate the bats.
In the meantime, classes and other daily activity will continue as normal at Lamar School. Flanary said students who use the gym to wait for their rides home will now do so in another part of the school.
The school director said he has been in contact with officials at the state Department of Health, who have advised “extreme caution” when dealing with bats and other wild creatures. He said wildlife can sometimes be an issue at county schools, where groundhogs and squirrels have been known to cause problems.
“Wildlife is a constant issue here in Northeast Tennessee,” Flanary said.
Bats were first spotted near the gymnasium in the spring, and he said efforts were made then to secure the building.
Flanary said a roofing company has been called to the site to seal areas of the gym where the bats may have gotten inside.
“The eaves of the building may be very attractive place for them,” Flanary said.