Gwinnett County elementary school notifies families about case of monkeypox

Adult at Dacula Elementary contracts monkeypox
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 1:27 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A school in Gwinnett County is reporting a case of monkeypox at one of its elementary schools.

According to a letter sent home to school families, an “individual at our school” tested positive. The school says they are taking the situation very seriously and the risk of monkeypox transmission in a school setting is “very minimal.”

The individual in question will remain off campus until cleared to return by medical professionals, according to the letter.

The letter also says that if parents were not “specifically notified with separate communication,” their child was not identified as having close contact with a known case.

The school told CBS46 that it will not share further information about the case because of privacy laws, including the gender or age of the victim. However, the health department confirmed that the person who has been infected is an adult.

Some students in the area said it is still concerning.

“Definitely a little bit, especially with the whole scare with Covid,” Sydney Spayd, a Dacula High student, said. “Just want to make sure nothing else happens.”

READ LETTER BELOW

Dear Dacula Elementary School families,

GNR Public Health notified Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) today that an individual at our school has tested positive for the monkeypox virus. I want to reassure you, we are taking this situation very seriously and the risk of monkeypox transmission in a school setting is very minimal. The individual in question will remain off campus until cleared to return to school by medical officials.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, GCPS is currently contact tracing and will notify parents of any students considered to be close contacts to the affected individual. Please understand that due to HIPAA and FERPA regulations, we cannot release specific information regarding individuals.

If you are not specifically notified with separate communication, your child was not identified as having close contact with a known case, and it is highly unlikely your child was exposed.

It is very important to know that monkeypox is spread through close, direct skin-to-skin contact. While the risk of transmission is very low in a school setting, we wanted to inform you of this potential exposure. Our school facilities personnel will thoroughly clean and disinfect all affected areas of the school.

Monkeypox is a virus that causes a rash that first appears like flat spots then changes into raised bumps and then fluid-filled blisters. The person may also have a fever, headache, sore throat and or cough, and swollen lymph nodes. If you believe your student has monkeypox, please notify our school nurse and your child’s primary care physician. If your student is ill, please keep them at home until they are well and can return to school in accordance with our standard illness policy.

Again, monkeypox spreads through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact, including:

Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or fluids from the scabs of a person with monkeypox.

Less commonly, monkeypox can also be spread through touching objects, fabrics such as clothing, bedding, or towels, and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox or contact with respiratory secretions.

Clear and transparent two-way communication is a core value at Dacula Elementary School. It is our commitment to keep each and every family updated about important developments at our school. We wanted to make you aware of this situation as soon as possible and assure you that we are taking all possible steps to ensure a safe and healthy learning and working environment for students and staff. You can help us by keeping your student home if he or she is feeling unwell.

If you should have additional questions regarding monkeypox, please contact your doctor or local health department for more information. You can also visit the Georgia Department of Public Health or CDC’s monkeypox webpage for additional information.

According to the CDC, three children in Georgia have been diagnosed by monkeypox. In all three cases, they contracted the virus from someone in their household.

As of Aug. 26, 1,299 cases have been reported in Georgia, placing it in the top 5 of states with highest reported number of cases.