New worry for schools arises from Monkeypox outbreak



The recent outbreak of monkeypox raises a safety concern for students, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“Though going to a public setting such as school, workplace, or restroom is a minimal risk and the current risk to the general public is low, according to the California Department of Public Health, it’s something our district health services team is monitoring,” said Sacramento City Unified School District Communications Manager Alexander Goldberg.

“This is not a virus that has impacted many young children in California,” he added, noting recent data showed there were six cases statewide among people under the age of 18.

Monkeypox is spread from person to person through direct contact with rashes, scabs, or body fluids of a person infected with monkeypox, close contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person, as well as sexual contact, and contact with clothes, sheets, and blankets.  

In regards to social school events and sports with skin-to-skin contact, C.K McClatchy Principal Andrea Egan said, “At this time, I don’t foresee any restrictions or specific guidance, given that monkeypox spreads with very close skin-to-skin contact, sharing bedding with someone who is infected, or sharing utensils with someone who infected, which are all uncommon scenarios in a school setting.”

Dealing with an additional virus can be detrimental to student’s physical and mental health, and Egan hopes students seek help if in need and feel free to use the resources provided at school. 

“I am definitely concerned that another virus may cause more worry for students who have already been through/continue to endure the covid pandemic. Monkeypox, according to all I have read, is spreading most quickly in communities where men have sex with men, and I worry that LGBTQ students could be stigmatized or fear reaching out for help or support from adults in their lives,” said Egan.

She added, “Any CKM students who think they may have contracted the virus are encouraged to reach out to me, our Student Support Center staff, or any other caring adult on campus, so we can guide them in ensuring they get the medical and mental health support they will require.”

Symptoms of monkeypox may start five to 21 days after exposure. Studies have shown that symptoms last two to four weeks and include fever, skin rash, headache, muscle aches and backaches, chills, tiredness, and swollen lymph nodes.

“MPX (monkeypox) precautions are much different than the types of mitigation efforts we have to take with a virus that spreads through airborne particles and droplets such as covid, and that’s why the response is different and we are focusing on educating our school community about the MPX so they can recognize signs and symptoms, assess risk levels, find treatment, and determine possible vaccine eligibility,” said Goldberg.

This virus usually occurs in regions such as Central and West Africa. Still, with the restrictions of covid being more lenient there has been more opportunity for international travel, importation of animals, and close contact with people who are infected.

In comparison to covid, it is not as easily spread through airborne particles; therefore, masks are not being implemented. However, the CDC has updated the regulations for covid. The revision lifts the requirement to quarantine people without symptoms after exposure. In addition, people who are unvaccinated have the same protection from covid because of the high levels of population immunity. 

The school district has yet to announce different or specific precautions and protocols for monkeypox. However, Victoria Flores, director of Student Support and Health Services for the district, said,” SCUSD at this time is following the guidance from the county for all people in the county.”