This policy sets out the actions that schools must take to control any mosquito breeding grounds on school premises.
- The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (Vic) require that an owner or occupier of premises (school principals) must take reasonable steps to control any mosquito breeding ground on the premises and to abate any conditions on those premises that are conducive to the establishment of a mosquito breeding ground.
- Schools must conduct regular inspections of their grounds to check for stagnant water or unsealed water sources as water accumulating adds to the risk of mosquito breeding.
- Where necessary, schools must also consider other risk management measures to protect students and staff from mosquito bites and subsequent mosquito-borne disease.
Regulation 15 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (Vic) (the Regulations) requires that an owner or occupier of premises must take reasonable steps to control any mosquito breeding ground on the premises and to abate any conditions on those premises that are conducive to the establishment of a mosquito breeding ground.
Compliance and monitoring
The department is committed to assisting schools to effectively manage their compliance activities related to school infrastructure. This includes the management of mosquito breeding grounds.
The Asset Management Roles and Responsibilities Framework summarises the key responsibilities for corporate staff, principals and school councils for all key asset management activities.
The Buildings and Grounds Maintenance and Compliance Policy sets out the department’s compliance and monitoring process which consists of 3 principal steps:
To comply with this requirement, schools must conduct regular inspections of their grounds to check for stagnant water or unsealed water sources as water accumulating adds to the risk of mosquito breeding. As with all routine maintenance, relevant actions should be included in school maintenance plans and funded through Student Resource Package (SRP) maintenance funding.
Reasonable steps to control mosquito breeding grounds on the premises include the following:
- remove or regularly empty containers capable of holding water (including rubbish bins, pots and bird baths)
- ensure gutters and stormwater pits have been cleaned to allow water to flow freely
- where possible, remove trailer covers to prevent water pooling or place in an undercover area
- fix any leaking taps that may be causing water to pool
- identify areas where there is a sloping gradient where water commonly pools and arrange for this to be regularly pumped out or redirected
- check and maintain rainwater tanks and water storage vessels to ensure they are completely sealed or have insect proof meshing that is no bigger than 1 mm in size – it is recommended that mesh is placed to protect inlets and overflows around inspection and access points between the roof and the main body of the tank. A plumber may need to be engaged to assist with this
- keep swimming pools well maintained, and empty or securely cover if not in use
- fit removable screen mesh to the outlet end of overflow pipes and to all inlets
- where mesh is unable to be applied to a water tank, a chemical treatment should be added to inhibit mosquito larvae growth
- ensure grass is cut short in open areas
- use other controls like spraying areas with a mosquito adulticide substance, noting it is a hazardous substance and should be used outside of school hours (it is recommended to be applied by a pest controller service provider).
In indoor environments, so far as reasonably practicable, schools must use the following precautions.
In areas with a large volume of mosquitos:
- prevent mosquitoes from entering school buildings by checking and repairing holes in flyscreens (where used)
- ensure windows and doors are sealed with no gaps
- where windows do not have flyscreens, consider installing flyscreens
- while the general health advice remains that ventilation should be maximised to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, during periods when a high level of mosquito activity is observed, windows and doors without flyscreens should be closed with air purifiers used. When mosquito activity is reduced, consider re-opening doors and windows.
Schools should include pest control and other routine maintenance actions to meet mosquito breeding prevention activities in their School Maintenance Plans and use their SRP maintenance funding to undertake these activities.
As part of the mosquito surveillance program, the Department of Health is regularly updated with Local Government Areas where mosquito-borne disease may be circulating.
General protection from mosquitos
To protect students and staff from mosquito bites and subsequent mosquito-borne disease, it is recommended that schools:
- consider making insect repellent containing picaridin or DEET readily available to staff and students – advice about using and purchasing insect repellent is available in the Guidance tab
- encourage all students and staff to use insect repellent and wear long, loose-fitting clothing if outdoors when mosquitoes are observed – in most instances, school uniforms are appropriate when worn with repellent, however, this may require a relaxation of school uniform requirements for some students (particularly those unable to use repellent) for a short period
- consider limiting or rescheduling outdoor activity if mosquitoes are observed.
Schools can visit the Better Health Channel's Protect yourself from mosquito-borne disease for more information.
The Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) monitors compliance with maintenance requirements using the Asset Information Management System (AIMS) and responds to non-compliance at a school and system level through direct support to schools or revision of policies and procedures.
Schools are advised to refer to the School Facilities Management Handbook for further information on using AIMS work orders to manage routine maintenance actions.
For school queries and further advice on preventing mosquito breeding grounds on school premises contact:
Victorian School Building Authority
Phone: 1800 896 950
For school queries relating to reducing the risk of mosquito bites and subsequent mosquito-borne diseases contact:
Health Promotion, Prevention and Advice unit
Reviewed 29 January 2023