WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- School leaders in Washington County, Tennessee confirmed with News Channel 11 that they discovered bats inside a school’s gym just before kids returned to the classroom.

Dr. Bill Flanary said that bats were discovered in Lamar Elementary School’s gymnasium just before the school year. It is closed off to students.

Dr. Flanary said that bats are a protected species and it is illegal to kill them.

Photo: WJHL

He added that they’ve been working with the Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to try to resolve the issue.

Health department officials were at Lamar Elementary School Tuesday afternoon to work on a plan of action in re-opening the gym.

Dr. Flanary told News Channel 11’s Jessica Fuller the bats have been confined to the gym and every point of entry has been sealed. He said they believe there are a couple of bats left that are trapped in the roof that are dying trying to get out.

School officials have also been working to clean and sanitize the building, following health department protocol.