Florida schools preparing to fight Zika virus in classrooms

Gov. Scott working to provide teachers with info

TAMPA, Fla. -
Teachers and school nurses across Florida are preparing to protect your kids from Zika virus when they head back to school.
 
Gov. Rick Scott held a roundtable on Zika preparedness in St. Johns County and met with members of Florida’s K-12 public school system, the Florida College System and the State University System of Florida to discuss what actions they are taking at their schools and campuses to prevent the spread of the virus.
 
"I have directed DOH and DOE to closely work together to ensure students, parents, educators and district leaders have all the resources and guidance they need to combat the Zika virus," Scott said in an public announcement.
 
Some school districts are already preparing for the new directive, including Hillsborough Count Schools.
 
"We do handle the most precious cargo around, right? Kids," said Jaimie Gerding, the new principal at Booker T. Washington Elementary.  
 
Zika virus can cause serious birth defects. That means pregnant women are most at risk.
 
Under the new directive, Gov. Scott said school districts will partner with the State Department of Health to get school nurses trained to recognize Zika symptoms like joint pain, fever and rashes.
 
Teachers will also get informational materials to incorporate into lesson plans about how to stop to spread of mosquitoes.
 
Each school will also receive posters and informational materials to hang around schools so parents and students can better recognize the dangers.
 
Hillsborough County Schools, along with other local districts, are preparing to send home documents and informational materials to families about the dangers of Zika virus and how to stop its spread through mosquitoes.
 
"We want to make sure something that is as important like this from the state, we want to make sure it doesn't get lost in the mix," said Tanya Arja, Hillsborough County Schools spokeswoman.
 
In the meantime, Arja said the school district is preparing to rid all campuses of standing water.
 
"We'll be getting that information to our principals to ask them to get their custodian staff and their maintenance staff to check around the school, when it stops raining, to check for any standing water and make sure that there is none of that around the campuses," Arja said.
 
Booker T. Washington is already looking at what they can do to stop the spread of the virus through mosquitos.
 
"It's absolutely high priority," Gerding said. "They [kids] can't learn unless we keep them safe."
 
That way, parents feel a little more reassured sending their kids to school.
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