"We found we did have a number of rats. We had more than we ever anticipated we could have," said ISD 709 Facilities Manager, Dave Spooner.
Duluth school district officials were first notified of the rat problem three and half weeks ago by a site engineer saying he had noticed several rats by the food recycling bin outside.
School officials say they took action right away. They've since been trapping 5 rats per day. Officials are trying to clear a population of rats from the footing and foundation drainage system underneath the gym addition.
"We wanted to do the least impactful method when students were still in school so we started with our box traps," said Spooner.
While the number of rats reported is alarming, school officials say the rats didn't make it inside the building, therefore, they didn't see the need to shut down the school.
"The rats have not gotten into the school yet, and we are doing our best effort to ensure that does not happen because if they are in the building it's even more difficult to eradicate," said Spooner.
Starting Thursday local pest control, Guardian Pest Solutions will be placing poisoned bait box traps around the outside of the school.
"The bait is this sort of waxy block that contains grain and the poison that will dispatch the rats," said Technical Dir. Guardian Pest Solutions, Dr. Jamie Kopco.
The trap is specifically designed to be as safe as possible.
"It's basically a box, it's made of heavy-duty plastic. It's sturdy enough that children, dogs, other animals are not going to be able to rip it open or disassemble it," said Dr. Kopco.
The rat will go through the hole and eat the bait. It will take a couple days for the poison to do its job so there is potential rats could end up away from the school grounds but Guardian Pest Solutions says the community shouldn't be concerned if their pets come in contact with the rat.
"It packs just enough wall up to take out a rat. And your cat or your dog is a much bigger animal than a rat. So if your pet is just going hog wild eating these rats it could potentially make themselves a little bit sick but if you keep your pets under control and supervise them the risk would be very, very low," said Dr. Kopco.
District officials don't know how long this process will take but they're stopping at nothing to remove the rats.
"We need to take immediate action to ensure we eradicate prior to the start of school next fall," said Spooner.
For now, after school summer programs are being moved to Ordean East Middle School, just up the road from Congdon Elementary.