Letter to Parents - Re: West Nile Virus

May 1, 2022

Dear Parents/Guardians/Students:

Re: West Nile Virus


In an effort to keep you informed about the West Nile Virus, the following questions and answers have been compiled for your information.  The York Region District School Board is actively working to ensure that we are prepared to address the West Nile Virus.  We will continue to work closely with York Region Health Services so that you receive the most up-to-date information.


1.   What is the York Region District School Board doing to ensure that my child is safe against the West Nile Virus at school?

      As always, our Plant Services staff maintain our school and Board properties.  Staff inspect the grounds for a number of different reasons.  They will identify and eliminate any standing water (e.g. in containers, buckets, pots, barrels, wheel barrows); ensure that eaves troughs and rain gutters are kept clean to allow proper drainage; check roof tops for proper drainage; and eliminate debris, lawn cuttings and fallen leaves.

      As the summer advances, staff will continue to monitor our school and Board properties for temporary water collection where mosquitoes could breed, through mid-summer to fall, as well as trim shrubs and bushes on a regular basis.


2.   What if I see standing water on school or Board property?

It is important for us to hear from you if you see standing water on school or York Region District School Board property. We encourage you to report standing water directly to the school or call 1-800-268-1660.

Please note that standing water is water that is outdoors and has no movement or flow for more than seven days.  Examples of areas that can contain standing water are storm water catch basins, drainage ditches and swales, ponds, roofs, roof gutters, birdbaths, tin cans, etc.  Standing water is the breeding ground for mosquitoes since this is where they lay eggs.  Mosquitoes could breed24 to 36 hours after a heavy rainfall, through mid-summer to fall, but this amount of time varies based on weather conditions.


3.   What if I see a dead animal on Board property?

Do not touch the animal with your bare hands.  Let the school principal know immediately. West Nile virus is established in Ontario and dead bird surveillance is no longer required as an early indicator of the disease.  As a result, York Region will no longer pick up dead birds or ask residents to report dead bird sightings.  Ontario will continue to use other indicators, such as mosquito surveillance, to determine the human health risk of West Nile virus in the province.  The school will arrange for disposal of the dead bird by a pest control contractor.  If you spot a dead bird on the weekend on school property contact the Board’s after-hours emergency line at 647-749-4297(Toronto) or 289-366-1983(Local).


4.   What can I do to ensure that my child is protected from the West Nile virus?

Children are at minimal risk of exposure during the daytime since mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. This West Nile Virus information page from York Region Health Services outlines what you can do to protect your family.


5.   What if I want my child to apply repellent at school to ensure that s/he is safe during outdoor activities?

Again, children are at minimal risk of exposure during the daytime since mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.  You may wish to apply repellent to your child prior to the start of the school day.  However school staff will not be applying insect repellents to students.

Safety information about insect repellents is posted on the Health Canada website to assist you on the use of personal insect repellents.  Please follow the product directions carefully, noting age and number of applications.  Please note that students will not be permitted to use spray or pump bottles.  We encourage the use of lotions and creams.


6.   Will outdoor educational activities/trips be cancelled?

No.  Since mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, children are at minimal risk of exposure during the daytime.  Parents will be reminded of the precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their children while they enjoy outdoor education activities and trips that may take place when and where mosquitoes are most active.


7.   Where can I get further information?

Further information is available on the following web sites: