Gwinnett County

Adult at Gwinnett County elementary school tests positive for monkeypox

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County Public Schools confirmed to Channel 2 Action News on Monday that there is a confirmed monkeypox case involving an adult associated with one of its schools.

According to the school system, the confirmed case is at Dacula Elementary School. The District has not confirmed in what capacity the person worked in the school because of privacy concerns.

The school system sent out a message notifying families that an individual at the elementary school tested positive for the monkeypox virus.

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The message to families from GCPS said 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.

District officials told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson that even those students who are listed as close contacts can still attend school in person.

Health officials say that it is very unlikely that students can get the virus without prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Some in the community are supportive of taking extra steps to keep students safe.

“Just letting them know, ‘Be careful who you’re touching. If you see someone with a bump, just, not stay away, just be more careful,’” said neighbor Shemaiah Kane said.

The full message sent out to parents reads as followed:

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.

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Monkeypox is a virus that causes a rash that first appears like flat spots then changes into raised bumps and then fluid-filled blisters.

If a monkeypox case is confirmed in a school, the CDC recommends the child do the following:

  • Be separated from other children or adolescents in a private space (such as an office).
  • Wear a well-fitting mask (if the child is at least 2 years old).
  • Be picked up by a caregiver so they can receive medical assessment.

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Last week, a Newton County elementary school student tested posted for the virus, and a second was undergoing testing.

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