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Unmasked elementary school teacher infects half of class with COVID-19, CDC says

Published: Aug. 29, 2021 at 1:50 AM EDT
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MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (Gray News) - An unvaccinated elementary school teacher in California infected half their class with COVID-19 after reading aloud without a mask, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reports that an unvaccinated elementary school teacher in Marin County, California, went to work for two days with COVID-19 symptoms before getting tested for the virus, a test that came back positive May 23.

The teacher believed their initial symptoms of nasal congestion and fatigue were allergy-related, according to the CDC. They went on to have a cough, fever and headache.

During the days the teacher was working while symptomatic, they occasionally read aloud unmasked to their class despite school guidance requiring masking while indoors.

Additional cases of COVID-19 connected to the school were reported starting May 23. A total of 27 cases were ultimately identified, including that of the teacher.

Twelve of the teacher’s 24 students, all ineligible for vaccination due to their ages, tested positive for COVID-19. Two of the students were not tested. The students who sat in the two rows closest to the teacher’s desk had the highest infection rate at 80%.

Twelve of the teacher’s 24 students, all ineligible for vaccination due to their ages, tested...
Twelve of the teacher’s 24 students, all ineligible for vaccination due to their ages, tested positive for COVID-19. The students who sat in the two rows closest to the teacher’s desk had the highest infection rate at 80%.(Source: CDC)

Six students in a separate grade at the school also tested positive, reportedly following a sleepover, and eight cases were identified in parents and siblings of the students in the two grades.

None of those infected became seriously ill or had to be hospitalized. The delta variant was to blame in at least 18 of the cases, the CDC reports.

The CDC says the outbreak proves vaccines are effective against the delta variant – only three of those infected were fully vaccinated – but prevention strategies must be followed to keep students safe during in-person learning. These include masking, routine testing and staying home when symptomatic.

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