News Update

Unvaccinated teacher in Marin County infects half the class after reading aloud maskless

A classroom Covid outbreak in a Marin County classroom, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday,  underscores the perils of even a brief lapse from safety measures and offers further evidence for mandatory staff vaccinations.

Half of the 24 students in a K-8 elementary school tested positive for the virus after an unnamed unvaccinated teacher removed a mask, contrary to policy, to read a story from the front of the class. That was on May 21. Two days earlier, the teacher had felt fatigue and nasal congestion but attributed the symptoms to allergies. On May 23, the test proved to be Covid.

All five students seated in the front row of desks subsequently tested positive, along with three students in the second row (one student in the row wasn’t tested) and four more students in the remaining three rows. The teacher was one of only two at the school who were not vaccinated.

After an analysis of the virus tests, the report concluded the outbreak consisted of 27 cases of the delta variant, including the  teacher. Ten other students at the school also later tested positive for the coronavirus, beside the 12 in the teacher’s class. Four of them had siblings in the infected teacher’s class and were likely exposed to the virus at home, the report said.

“The outbreak’s attack rate highlights the delta variant’s increased transmissibility and potential for rapid spread, especially in unvaccinated populations such as schoolchildren too young for vaccination,” the report concluded. It also highlights the importance of vaccinating staff who work with the same age group of students, it said.

County health officials and experts with UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz wrote the report.