An outbreak at a San Anselmo school was the fault of parents whose child tested positive for COVID-19, but then they ignored that test and sent the kid to school anyway.
Marin County health officials are publicly shaming some unnamed parents of two students at Neil Cummins Elementary School in San Anselmo, saying that they knowingly sent their kids to school after one of them tested positive for COVID-19. As the Marin Independent Journal reports, the parents received the positive test result on November 8 and were told to keep both their children home and to inform the school. Instead, they kept it to themselves and both kids went back to school on November 9 and 10.
November 11 was Veterans' Day, but the kids were also in school November 12, and then from November 15 to 18, at which points school officials were alerted to the positive test by the county. A specialist at the Marin County Department of Public Health called the school asking why they had not uploaded the positive case to the county's database yet — and school administrators then checked their records and saw that both the siblings in question had been in school for over a week at that point.
At least eight children, including the two siblings, became infected in the outbreak at Neil Cummins Elementary School, and a total of 75 people, including students' family members, were then subject to a modified quarantine that meant no traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. Reportedly, none of the children had severe virus symptoms.
It's not clear to what extent the county's daily COVID cases have been impacted by this particular outbreak, but it should be noted that Marin County's daily case count has jumped significantly in recent days — from a seven-day average of 20 new cases per day between November 19 and December 3, to 34 cases per day as of Sunday, a 70% jump.
"This is an unfortunate example of how non-adherence to public health orders and recommendations can increase risk for others," said Marin County Health Officer Matt Willis and Deputy Health Officer Lisa Santora in a joint statement. "These protocols were created to lower COVID-19 risk for staff, students, and their families."
“Thankfully," they added, "this is the only known occurrence of a household knowingly sending a COVID-19 positive student to school."
Marin County has relatively high vaccination rates overall, even among school-age children, however at the time this outbreak occurred only a portion of the students at the school had had their first vaccine dose, and none were yet fully vaccinated.
Officials in the school district are calling for consequences for the parents, and the county health department says it is still investigating the case and the enforcement team will "respond accordingly" when they close the case.
"If it is accurate that a parent or guardian did not follow required protocols and knowingly sent their COVID-positive child to school, there should be consequences because they have jeopardized the health and safety of other children, their families and school staff," said Marin Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke in a statement to the Marin IJ.
Still, the superintendent of the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District, Brett Geithman, says it's noteworthy that they only found three cases of in-school transmission in this outbreak, despite a week of the infected children playing with their friends and attending class. "What that tells us is that our COVID protocols are working pretty well," Geithman tells the Marin IJ.
Geithman also noted, speaking to KTVU, that since reopening schools in October 2020, this was the first instance of in-school transmission in that district. But another notable case that made national headlines, in which an unvaccinated teacher infected over a dozen students, happened in May in Novato.
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