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The official recommendation for Miami-Dade County schools is for kids to cover up—even in the sweltering, humid, higher than 90-degree heat—to avoid mosquito bites. The recommendation for long sleeves and long pants has some parents questioning the rationale. But proper clothing, along with use of an EPA-registered insect repellent, can go a long way to help prevent mosquito bites and the illnesses that mosquitoes can carry.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ guidelines for the start of the 2017-2018 year on repellent are likely to remain unchanged from last year. No repellent products can be brought to school or applied on school grounds out of concern that some children may be allergic to the ingredients. Understanding this, what can parents do to protect their children from mosquito bites?

Three things:

  1. Use repellent at home. Unsure of what kind of product to use? Go the EPA’s website to find the repellent that is right for your child. When purchasing repellent, consider the protection time needed. Bottles of repellent will indicate on their labels the number of hours the repellent provides protection. Unlike sunscreen, repellent does not need to be reapplied as often. Never allow children to spray themselves, and do not apply spray directly on your child’s face, underneath clothes or on hands. Kids are likely to put their hands in their mouths at some point and it’s best to avoid the scenario where they may ingest repellent.
  1. Talk to your child’s teacher. Many schools provide daily recess for their students. Some teachers provide indoor activities and others may use a school’s playground. It all depends on the teacher and the weather. Knowing the amount of time outdoors will help you select the correct kind of coverage to protect your child from mosquito bites, as you’ll be better able to gauge time outside where exposure is more likely to occur. Just remember that mosquitos can fly and they go where they “smell” heat and sweat and see movement; this means many mosquitoes will make it indoors, too.
  1. Find out about the school’s policies and mosquito control procedures. After Zika arrived in Miami’s Wynwood district and in Miami Beach last year, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, especially in the affected areas, adjusted uniform guidelines to include pants and long sleeves. Leggings offer little to no protection as these tight-fitting pants allow mosquitoes easy access to skin through clothing. Dress children in loose clothing, which will create a barrier so mosquitos are unable to reach the skin.

Above all, stay in communication with your child’s school. Know what to expect and be aware of the current policies regarding mosquito control. For instance, rainy conditions may affect school activities such as field trips, sports and after-school events.  Some may need to be changed from outdoor to indoor events, while others may end up being cancelled.

While all classrooms and many buses have air conditioning, it is still possible for mosquitoes to gain access and for bites to occur.  If they do, treat them with anti-itch medicine to avoid scratching with can lead to infection.  If your child reports being bitten by mosquitoes at school, contact school administrators so that steps can be taken to identify and correct possible mosquito breeding and adult mosquito activity.

A little extra planning and preparation will help kids stay mosquito-bite-free as they head back to school.

Above content provided by Miami-Dade County.


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