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Unvaccinated School Teacher Removes Mask to Read, Infects 80 Percent of Classroom

August 30, 2021

A California elementary school teacher who removed her mask while visibly ill to read to her class infected half her students with COVD-19, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, released late last week, said the Marin County teacher was one of two unvaccinated school staff members. Of her 24 students, 12 of 22 tested were infected with the Delta variant. None of the students were eligible for vaccination. Four parents of students at the school also later tested positive. Their symptoms included fever, chills, headache, cough and loss of smell. The outbreak started in late May when the teacher tested positive for COVID-19 two days after reporting a stuffy nose and fatigue. She continued working during those two days, attributing her symptoms to allergies. "Teachers, school staff members and even students, regardless of vaccination status, need to observe universal masking," says Dr. Faiqa Cheema, a Hartford HealthCare infectious disease specialist. This case highlights the transmissibility of the Delta variant: All five students sitting in the first row were infected and 80 percent, or eight of 10, students in the first two rows were infected. Twenty-one percent of the remaining students were infected. Here is an outline of the class seating provided by the CDC, with test results: CDC classroom infection   "This outbreak of COVID-19 that originated with an unvaccinated teacher highlights the importance of vaccinating school staff members who are in close indoor contact with children ineligible for vaccination as schools reopen," the report's authors wrote. "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." Despite the infection of the four parents, the Delta variant did not spread within the community as it did in other outbreaks across the country. The CDC says that could be attributed to the high vaccination rate, 72 percent of those eligible, in the city where the school is located. [embed]https://youtu.be/WuWVKvhRGr8[/embed] But students too young for vaccination -- only those 12 years old and up are eligible -- remain among the most vulnerable to the Delta variant, even in a room that observes masking and physical distancing in a room with air filtration and windows open. All it takes is a lapse in masking by someone infected with the virus. "It really comes down to two basics," says Dr. Cheema. "We need to educate our children to wash their hands, observe good hand hygiene and to make sure they're masking appropriately, the mask they're wearing is the right material and it covers their face, nose and mouth and fits their face. By following these two simple steps, you can avoid many respiratory viruses."