Unvaccinated & Unmasked Teacher In US Infects Over Half Of Class With COVID-19

The teacher took off their mask to read aloud to students in class.

Cover image via Taylor Wilcox/Unsplash & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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An unvaccinated primary school teacher who took off their mask to read to students in Marin County, California ended up infecting half of their classroom with COVID-19 in May this year

Over a few days, a total of 27 people — including the teacher, students in other grades, and family members — got infected in the outbreak.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study of the case on Friday, 27 August, as a public health advisory about the importance of prevention strategies and vaccinating staff members as schools reopen nationwide.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via AFP/Daily Express

The teacher had come to work even though they had symptoms for COVID-19, initially believing the symptoms were due to allergies

The school separated student desks 6ft apart from each other, equipped classrooms with portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, left doors and windows open for ventilation, and required teachers and students to mask up while indoors.

Even so, investigations found that the teacher took their mask off on occasion to read aloud to their students, then later tested positive.

Eventually, half of the 24 students in class — all ineligible for vaccination because they are under 12 years old — ended up testing positive for the coronavirus.

The outbreak also shows a higher positive rate according to proximity to the teacher – eight out of 10 students sitting in the front two rows of the class got infected.

Six students in a separate grade and eight cases among their parents and siblings also later tested positive.

22 out of the 27 cases in the outbreak had symptoms for COVID-19, but none required hospitalisation and all recovered. The Delta variant was found in 18 specimens of those infected.

The CDC highlighted the case as an example of how schools need to follow social prevention strategies to protect students and staff

Given the Delta variant's high transmissibility and the ineligibility of some students to get vaccinated because of age, the CDC also encourages all adults to get vaccinated.

"Vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, but transmission risk remains elevated among unvaccinated persons in schools. In addition to vaccination, strict adherence to multiple nonpharmaceutical prevention strategies, including masking, are important to ensure safe school instruction," the agency concluded.

Officials in Malaysia are urging school teachers to get vaccinated before schools reopen, but many have not done it:

Malaysia has allowed youths aged 12 to 17 to get vaccinated too. However, a local actress' two children have recently lodged police reports to refuse: