It’s an inside story at the Revere Public Schools (RPS) this fall as all outdoor activities – including recess and some varsity sports – have been curtailed due to concerns about West Nile Virus (WNV).
Supt. Dianne Kelly and Health Agent Nick Catinazzo both said they put the measures into place on Oct. 1 after receiving warnings about mosquitoes carrying WNV in Suffolk County.
Since Oct. 1, students have been having indoor recess, physical education classes are inside, some sports like cross country have rescheduled home meets to away, and students have been discouraged from walking to school.
“We’ve had about seven cases of West Nile Virus in Suffolk County,” said Catinazzo. “There are none right now in Revere, but we have been notified about cases in Suffolk County…My recommendation to the School Department was if they didn’t have to do outside activities, not to do them until the weather gets colder.”
He said he, first, asked that the grass areas be sprayed to kill any mosquitoes that were there, but was advised by Northeast Mosquito Control that the recent rains would make spraying ineffective.
So, the next step was to limit exposure to the outdoors.
Revere is one of the only school districts to take such actions.
Kelly said the school decided to limit all outdoor activities for all schools would be eliminated until the first frost, which she said is normally in early November.
“Most of our playgrounds, unfortunately, happen to be on or near grass and we decided to have indoor recess at all of our schools to be safe,” she said. “We’re being extremely cautious as to how we approach this, which is definitely better than if we weren’t being vigilant and somebody got sick.”
Mosquitoes that become infected with the virus transmit WNV. When mosquitoes bite humans, WNV can be transmitted to that person. The virus often makes people sick and can be fatal.
Already some sports have been rescheduled, such as middle school cross-country. A home meet for that team was changed to an away meet last week.
Kelly said they are allowing sports to take place on the artificial turf fields at Della Russo Stadium and behind the high school.
“A lot of athletic events have been switched to away games or are being held on the two turf fields so that kid aren’t playing on the grass,” she said.
Catinazzo said Revere has monitoring stations, and no mosquitoes in those stations have been found to be infected. However, he did remind everyone that Revere is surrounded by a Marsh – where mosquitoes thrive.
“We are surrounded by a marsh,” he said. “It was a recommendation I made, and I didn’t force them to do anything. They thought it was a good idea and decided to take action. Within the next few weeks, it will get colder and this will all subside.”