Aug 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

CDC: Unvaccinated, unmasked teacher caused community-wide outbreak in California

A student rushes to her classroom for the first day of class in Laguna Niguel, California on Aug. 17.

A student rushes to her classroom for the first day of class in Laguna Niguel, California, on Aug. 17. Photo: Paul Bersebach, MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

An unvaccinated elementary school teacher in California infected more than half of her students with COVID-19, ultimately resulting in a community-wide outbreak in Marin County, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Why it matters: The outbreak, which took place in May, highlights the stakes surrounding a debate across the U.S. among school districts considering implementing stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus, like universal masking in schools.

Details: The teacher who caused the outbreak continued to show up at school for two days while experiencing symptoms before ultimately receiving a test.

  • The school in question requires teachers and students to wear masks indoors. But the teacher read to her students unmasked as she exhibited nasal congestion and fatigue.
  • The teacher tested positive for the virus on May 21, and 12 of her 22 students later tested positive, per the report.

The big picture: Thousands of students were forced to quarantine or isolate due to possible exposure almost immediately after schools reopened in August. Districts have had to temporarily close schools or suspend in-person instruction because of outbreaks.

What they're saying: The outbreak "highlights the importance of vaccinating school staff members who are in close indoor contact with children ineligible for vaccination as schools reopen," the report read.

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