CDC offers K-12 schools guidance on Zika prevention and response

It’s the beginning of yet another school year, and parents are rightly asking many questions in an effort to make sure students will get the best instruction, guidance and care possible.

What is the teacher’s homework policy and how often does he give tests? How much experience does the school nurse have? Where will medications be kept and how quickly will a student be able to access them if needed? What’s the school’s emergency dismissal plan?

What’s the plan to prevent and respond to the threat of Zika at school?

Wait. What was that? A plan for dealing with Zika? At school?

While parents are not used to asking that question, the fact is schools, like individual households, cities and counties and other entities, can’t ignore the potential spread of Zika.

But schools aren’t left to their own devices. The Centers for Disease Control has developed interim guidance for district leaders and administrators at K-12 schools. The guidance includes information for planning school-related activities and recommends actions schools, in consultation with local public health authorities and government officials, can take to reduce the potential risk for Zika virus transmission on school premises and among students.

CDC notes that there is no evidence that the risk for Zika being transmitted on school properties will be higher than in other local areas. The virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, through sexual contact, or from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

The CDC guidance, which will be updated as new information becomes available, provides an overview of the potential roles and responsibilities of public health authorities and school officials, describes prevention measures that schools can take to reduce mosquito exposure, and provides information on responding to a case of travel-associated Zika virus infection or confirmed local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus. Considerations for child care, camp and higher education settings also are addressed.

Click here for information on interim guidance for Zika response planning for district and school administrators.

The latest available Zika virus information, including answers to commonly asked questions, can be found here.

Information on mosquitoes and Zika can also be found at scdhec.gov/mosquitoes or scdhec.gov/zika.

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