Zika virus in school: Miami officials make tough decisions

MIAMI - Monday is the first day of school across Miami - where there are growing concerns about the Zika virus.

Health officials are monitoring two so-called Zika zones.

In Miami Beach, at least five people have apparently beeninfected by local mosquitoes.

The original Zika zone is just across Biscayne Bay. So far, at least 36 people in the area have been infected. The virus can cause severe birth defects.

The Florida Department of Health handed out free bug repellent at Miami Beach Senior High. Students from here and one other school in the newest Zika zone were encouraged to spray themselves before class.

Melanie Fishman, principal at South Pointe Elementary in Miami, said they don’t want students to spray themselves at school because “some kids might have asthma.”

The Miami-Dade school district handed out protective clothing - long sleeves and pants for students that needed it.

The proactive efforts taken by the school district have impressed Carol Karp, whose son Adam is entering high school.

“I commend their efforts, fantastic,” Karp said. “It’s what we should do to protect children and community.”

Nearly 3,300 will now be attending school in the 1.5-mile area where local Zika transmission has been confirmed on Miami Beach.

Ashley Beauegard, a yoga teacher who is 6 months pregnant, canceled her baby shower in Miami Beach, and worries, her home, 15 minutes north of the Zika zone, may also be a vulnerable area.

“I mean I just feel like it spread from Wynwood to Miami Beach, cases that we know of,” Beauegard said. “So how many cases that we don’t know of could’ve spread further already?”

Starting Monday, 7,600 kids in Miami-Dade County will be attending school inside of one of the Zika zones - there are now two in the county. The superintendent of schools originally considered relocating the students, but decided not to.