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Half of class caught Covid from unmasked teacher infected with Delta variant, report finds

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Half of students in a California classroom tested positive for COVID-19 after a teacher came into school while infected with the Indian ‘Delta’ variant, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report finds.

The elementary school teacher, in Marin County, California, felt symptomatic but continued to work for two days before receiving his or her positive test result. 

Occasionally, the teacher – who was unvaccinated – read aloud unmasked to the class despite requirements by the school to be masked indoors at all times.

Within one week, 12 of the 24 pupils in the class were confirmed to be infected with the virus – seven of whom sat in the front two rows.

What’s more, at least six kids in separate grade tested positive for Covid as well as eight parents and siblings of students in the two grades. 

The authors say the findings shows how highly transmissible the Delta variant is and recommend that all teachers and school staff members be vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid passing the disease onto children who are  too young to receive the shots.

A new CDC report details how an unmasked and unvaccinated schoolteacher in Marin County, California, worked for two days before testing positive for COVID-19. Pictured: Third grade teacher Keyona Moxey teaches students at Warner Arts Magnet Elementary in Nashville, Tennessee, August 20

A new CDC report details how an unmasked and unvaccinated schoolteacher in Marin County, California, worked for two days before testing positive for COVID-19. Pictured: Third grade teacher Keyona Moxey teaches students at Warner Arts Magnet Elementary in Nashville, Tennessee, August 20

Following the teacher's test result, 12 of 24 kids in the teacher's class tested positive, including all five children who sat in the front row (above)

Following the teacher’s test result, 12 of 24 kids in the teacher’s class tested positive, including all five children who sat in the front row (above)

According to the report, which was published on Friday, the teacher worked at a school in Marin County – just north of San Francisco – with 205 students in Pre-K through 8th grade and 24 staff members.

All the staff members were vaccinated against COVID-19 aside from two, including the teacher mentioned in the study.

He or she began experiencing symptoms on May 19, including nasal congestion and fatigue, but worked the following two days.

Over that time period, the teacher reported more symptoms including fever, cough and a headache. 

Although the school required teachers and students to wear mask indoors at all times, per CDC recommendations, the teacher did not wear a face covering while reading aloud to the class.

On May 21, the teacher received a positive COVID-19 test, informed the school and went into isolation until May 30. 

Meanwhile, the first students in his or her class began experiencing symptoms on May 22, the day after the positive test result.

Of the 24 kids in the classroom, 22 were tested. In total, 12 children received a positive COVID-19 result.

More than half of the kids who tested positive, or seven, sat in the first two rows, meaning they were closest to the teacher. 

All five kids who sat in the front row tested positive and four had symptoms, making up two-thirds of all children with symptoms.

The positive results came despite the desks being placed six feet apart and the children wearing masks while indoors.

What’s more, all classrooms were equipped with portable high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) air filters, and doors and windows were left open.

In addition to the unvaccinated teacher and his or her students, six of 18 kids in a nearby frade were also were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 as well as siblings and parents of students in the two grades (abve)

In addition to the unvaccinated teacher and his or her students, six of 18 kids in a nearby frade were also were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 as well as siblings and parents of students in the two grades (abve)

CDC authors say the findings show how infectious the Indian 'Delta' variant is and recommend that teachers be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks. Pictured: graph shows how quickly the infected teacher spread the virus to other students and their parents

CDC authors say the findings show how infectious the Indian ‘Delta’ variant is and recommend that teachers be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks. Pictured: graph shows how quickly the infected teacher spread the virus to other students and their parents 

But positive test results didn’t just come from the sick teacher’s classroom.

In a nearby classroom, 14 of 18 students were tested for the virus and six were confirmed to be infected.

There were also eight more cases – one student each from four other grades, who were siblings of the students in the two grades, and four parents. 

None of the children who were infected were eligible for vaccination because they are below age 12, the minimum age allowed to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.

According to the report, no other staff members in the school became ill and no infected adults or students were hospitalized.

The infected teacher’s sample was submitted for genome sequencing and he or she was revealed to have been infected with the Delta variant.   

‘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 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.’  

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