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When the school is not sure: “You have the impression of sending your child to the lion’s den”


“We’ve never seen this seating chart before,” Nathan told CNN. “It makes it real.”

CNN does not use Nathan’s real name or otherwise identify the parents or the school to protect the privacy of the children and teachers involved.

In May, when it was learned that the teacher and some of her students had Covid-19, parents say they received little information about what happened.

But the Marin County Health Department conducted a careful contact tracing investigation that revealed in startling detail how, despite considerable precautions, the teacher transmitted the virus to her students, who then infected others. students and family members.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted the investigation last week in its Weekly Death and Illness Report, the MMWR. It included a seating chart that showed eight of the 10 students in the first two rows had been infected, evidently when the unvaccinated teacher removed her mask to read aloud to them. He did not identify the school or the staff.

Nathan says his young child was in the classroom – among the students at the back of the classroom, so he was not infected.

But he feels confused that the teacher was allowed to remain unvaccinated and came to school with symptoms she thought were allergies but which appear to have been linked to Covid, and that she felt free to take off his mask in class, even momentarily, despite school regulations.

“Questions about trust”

“It really makes you sober about the reality of the pandemic,” Nathan told CNN. “I didn’t think it would hit so close.”

He said his family had taken many precautions to stay safe throughout the pandemic.

“There’s no, like, anger at the professor. It’s more of a bummer,” Nathan told CNN. “She’s a lovely young lady, so I don’t think she did this out of malice. But there are questions around trust.”

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The school does not require vaccinations, although California made teachers a priority group when rolling out coronavirus vaccines earlier in the year. California will require all teachers and other school staff to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing starting in mid-October.

“As adults, I feel like we have such a responsibility during the pandemic to protect these children,” Nathan said, noting that children under 12 are not eligible for vaccination.

“If we open our schools and our children are in the classrooms, it behooves all adults to do everything in their power to keep them safe. “

The school has published strict coronavirus protocols on its website. It indicates that parents must complete a form every day certifying that their children have no symptoms of Covid-19 and have not been exposed to the coronavirus. Teachers and staff should do the same.

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“We were told, as parents, that if our child is showing symptoms, we have to stay home,” Nathan said. “Why didn’t a teacher do the same? “

The chronology and genetic fingerprints of the viruses tested leave little doubt as to who infected whom.

“The teacher said he became symptomatic on May 19, but continued to work for 2 days before receiving a test on May 21,” the Marin County team reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. from last week. Students in her class began to experience symptoms on May 22.

“On occasion during this time, the teacher read aloud without a mask to the class despite the school’s requirements to mask himself inside,” the team added. “As of May 23, additional cases of COVID-19 were reported among other school-related staff, students, parents and siblings. “

The school did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. The Archdiocese of San Francisco, which runs the school, released a brief statement to CNN calling it an “isolated incident” that was handled internally.

“The Department of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco follows CDC guidelines as well as national and local protocols to ensure the safety and security of our school communities,” one read.

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“We are grateful for the many sacrifices made by parents, faculty, staff and over 23,000 students who have enabled our schools to reopen last year and for their continued efforts to deal with an unprecedented health crisis. and evolving. “

But it is far from an isolated incident. What made the Marin County case exceptional was the extent to which public health officials could document what had happened. But schools across the country are struggling to quarantine students after the exhibitions, fighting parents who demand mask warrants or demanding that no one even ask their children to wear masks, and are debating whether to require teachers and staff to be immunized.

CNN analysis shows that at least 21,869 students and 4,481 staff have tested positive for Covid-19 in Florida’s 15 largest school districts since back to school. Another 45,024 students and staff have been quarantined or placed on ‘stay at home’ directives due to possible exposure to Covid-19.

In Texas, 20,256 students and 7,488 employees tested positive for Covid-19 in districts that returned to school in August. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has banned masks in schools and virtual learning options, although some districts are challenging the ban on masks and requiring them in their schools.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said on Tuesday the state would require masks in K-12 schools and daycares starting September 7. In Florida, school districts including Alachua and Broward County Public Schools are moving forward with mask warrants despite threats of financial sanctions from the state, whose governor, Ron DeSantis, has warrants limited mask.

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Perhaps more than anything, schools struggle to communicate with frightened, confused, and often angry parents.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Ann keeps her 8-year-old son home from the small private religious school he attends for fear of being infected.

“We had 18 cases in one week,” she said. “It would be easier to have him at school. But it’s safer to keep him at home.”

Ann, who also wants to protect her identity for the sake of her son, sent CNN a photo of the school pastor delivering a sermon in a room full of masked children without wearing a mask himself.

Ann and Nathan both say their schools refuse to tell parents if teachers and staff are vaccinated, and they have provided few details on how students or staff may have been infected – although they do report to parents with positive coronavirus cases.

“You have the impression of sending your child to the lion’s den”

Ann and Nathan feel their schools are not doing enough to protect their children.

“They’re putting kindergarten through third grade in the dining room at the same time – that’s 150 kids for 30 minutes unmasked,” Ann said.

The North Carolina school allows distance learning with cameras in the classroom, but Ann said she is looking for other options.

“The last week and a half has been white and exhausting. It feels like you are sending your child to the lion’s den,” she said.

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