MIAMI (CBSMiami) — With the start of the new school year looming, some Miami schools are too close for comfort in the fight against the spread of the Zika virus.
A total of six schools are inside or very close to the active Zika transmission zone in Wynwood where the Florida Department of Health (DOH) believes all the 22 cases came from.
School leaders spoke on Wednesday about how to handle the situation.
“We don’t want to alarm you. We don’t want panic but it’s important to ensure protection and prevention,” said Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
When teachers report back to school, they’re going to be hearing a lot about Zika and how to prevent it.
“The effective prevention protection includes the daily inspection of these six sites to ensure that pools of water are non-existent,to keep trimming bushes that obstruct the view of where water would accumulate,” said Carvalho.
Six schools in the are have been evaluated and treated including:
- Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary
- Jose de Diego Middlle
- Eneida M. Hartner Elementary
- Phyllis Wheatley Elementary
- Design and Architecture Senior High
- Young Men’s Preparatory Academy
“Beginning this coming week,” said Carvalho. “We’re going to start a massive awareness campaign about protection. How to best avoid contact with mosquitoes that may spread the Zika virus.”
Parents will be getting phone calls and text messages with important information.
“We are encouraging parents and employees to apply insect repellent prior to coming to school,” said Carvalho.
They will not be allowed to bring canisters of repellent to school.
Schools in the affected areas are also asking parents to dress their kids in pants and long sleeves.
However, many of the children who go to school in Wynwood come from low income homes. Shopping for protective clothing is not an option.
“We are a compassionate school system and we recognize the hardship faced by a lot of our children and their parents,” the superintendent said. “That is why at no cost we are ready to supply those additional uniforms, long pants and long sleeve shirts to children in impacted areas whose means may not necessarily allow them to go out and buy them.”
And as for the first day of school, “The Department of Health shall have representatives at each of the schools, within each school in the impacted area. We do not want to run any risk,” said Carvalho.