Aug 30, 2021 - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated teacher caused an outbreak in classroom

Kindergarteners play during recess on the first day of school at Los Angeles Unified School District at Montara Avenue Elementary School

Kindergarteners play during recess on the first day of school at Los Angeles Unified School District. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

An outbreak at an elementary school classroom in Marin County, California, appears to have been caused by an unvaccinated teacher who was occasionally unmasked, a new case study out Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Why it matters: The outbreak — in which about 50% of the students got infected with COVID-19 — highlights the challenge of sending unvaccinated children back to school, particularly in light of the Delta variant’s increased transmissibility.

Details: The unvaccinated teacher was one of only two school staff members at the school who were not vaccinated. The teacher reported having symptoms on May 19, but continued to work for two days before receiving a test.

  • The teacher also took off her mask to read aloud to the class, despite the school adhering to CDC masking recommendations. The school also spaced desks six feet apart and installed an air filter at the front of the classroom.
  • Of the 12 positive students within the classroom, six were symptomatic. Everyone sitting in the front row became infected.

The big picture: Several major school districts have stepped in to mandate vaccines for school staff. Last week, Washington state unveiled the strictest vaccine requirement for teachers in which all must be fully vaccinated.

  • Nearly 40% of states are mandating masks in schools, while nearly 25% of states ban their districts from such requirements.
  • Yes, but: A Florida judge ruled Friday that school districts can require students and staff to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a blow to Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order banning the mandates.

By the numbers: On Friday, the White House said that half of U.S. children ages 12 to 17 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination.

  • White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said that vaccinations in this age group are growing faster than any other demographic.

Editor’s note: This story was corrected to show the outbreak occurred in Marin County (not San Francisco).

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