Protection from Zika important as students go back to school

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) have reported several cases of the Zika Virus in a one-mile square area in Wynwood. A small number of public and charter schools are located in this area.

Now that school is open, in an effort to ensure the health and safety of students, employees, and all M-DCPS stakeholders, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District, in consultation with the CDC, the FDOH, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), and Miami-Dade County is aggressively taking the following steps:

Mosquito Repellent: The application of mosquito repellent is not currently allowed in schools. Pursuant to CDC guidelines, DEET Insect Repellent needs to be carefully applied and should be stored out of the reach of children. In consultation with the FDOH, the district’s proposed protocols focus on parent education and application of repellent prior to arriving at school.

Uniform Policy: Principals are taking a more liberal approach to the adherence of school uniform policy allowing for long-sleeved shirts.

A voucher program is available for students who do not have the means to purchase uniforms. This will be determined at the school-site level, on a case-by-case basis.

Outdoor Activities: M-DCPS will work in close consultation with the FDOH and the county regarding outdoor activities including physical education, recess, and after school activities. Should guidance be provided to limit outdoor activities, the appropriate adjustments will be made.

Procedures for Employees: All employees will be given information relative to protective measures. Employees who work outdoors or at a school within an affected area will be provided specific guidelines.

If an employee is pregnant, she will receive information on how to get tested and appropriate protective measures. If concerns remain, the employee will be encouraged to seek guidance from her doctor. Human Capital Management is prepared to counsel employees regarding their options.

Facilities: A district-wide facilities assessment for standing water is constant and ongoing. In addition, the Office of School Facilities is working closely with schools in the affected areas to identify all sites where mosquito dunks will be placed. Mosquito dunks are mosquito control products that kill mosquitoes during the larvae stage. The mosquito dunks address mosquito prevention for 30-day intervals.

Curriculum: M-DCPS will partner with the FDOE and the FDOH to spread the word in classrooms about Zika prevention. The district will share the “Spill The Water!” mosquito prevention campaign with all students. The information and resources included encourage students to cover up and spill sources of standing water around their homes. The campaign includes a short video, a teacher tool, and corresponding activity sheets for students in pre-K through high school. The teacher tool and activity sheets are aligned to the Florida Standards.

More information is available at

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