FOX 5 San Diego

CA health leaders say school, child care safe amid monkeypox spread

SAN DIEGO — California officials Tuesday provided an update on back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent spread of monkeypox.

During a briefing that featured Dr. Sohil Sud with the California Department of Public Health along with Brooks Allen, the executive director of the state board of education, Dr. Sud announced that thousands of COVID-19 at-home test kits are on the way to California schools and that the state is encouraging everyone to take a COVID test prior to returning to the classroom.

“Schools and childcare setting appear to be very safe places to be,” Dr. Sud said on monkeypox.

There are 1,310 cases of monkeypox in California, according to state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Among those cases, three of them are children under 18 years old. Further data on their ages is not identified.

In San Diego, there are 98 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox. No children have tested positive in San Diego, as the youngest person with the virus has been identified as a 21-year-old.

“All available evidence suggests the monkeypox virus is far less transmissible than COVID, that doesn’t mean it’s not of great concern, it is,” Dr. Sud said. “Monkeypox is spread primarily through direct and sustained physical contact and often intimate contact, so given the route of transmission, the risk to the general population remains very low — and that includes children in schools.” 

Dr. Sud said statewide the focus is on those most impacted by monkeypox.

“Which as you know are individuals in the LGBTQ community engaged in male-to-male sexual activities, so that’s where the attention needs to be and that’s where the resources are going,” Dr. Sud said. 

FOX 5 contacted several school districts to learn how they plan to combat the spread of monkeypox.

“At SMUSD, our current COVID mitigation measures that are in place, including clean and sanitized facilities, encouraging regular handwashing, and optimizing indoor air quality, will also aid in the mitigation of all colds and viruses. There is currently no guidance available for schools, however we are continually monitoring information from the health authorities and will provide updates to our school community as necessary,” San Marcos Unified School District told FOX 5.

San Diego Unified School District posted a message sharing how students and staff can protect themselves from monkeypox, which included checking for any any skin lesions before wrestling, dance, rugby or other skin-to-skin activities. Their notice also said:

a) Basic hygienic measures that everyone should be following anyhow, to protect from
other diseases, will also protect you from Monkeypox. Specifically:
b) If someone is feeling sick, do not kiss or otherwise exchange saliva or other body fluids;
c) Individuals with fever and signs of illness (headache, sore throat, exhaustion, etc) should
be home and not in school;
d) If someone has new flat or raised or pox-like skin rash, do not touch those spots and do
not cuddle, hug, wrestle, etc.
e) Before wrestling (or other skin-to-skin activities, like dance or rugby), all participants
should check to be certain they have have no new skin lesions.
f) Gym mats, yoga mats and other items should be cleaned between uses of separate
g) Do not share towels or clothing with others.
h) Never share cups/straws, forks/spoons, water bottles, cigarettes, etc

The county is hosting a monkeypox town hall Thursday night. For more information, click here.