The DPH website detailing the cases of monkey pox in Georgia will be updated Wednesday afternoon.
Newton County School System officials have notified parents at both schools of the cases via School Messenger. Parents of students who may be considered close contacts of the sick students will receive additional communications from school officials advising them on next steps.
The CDC defines close contact as someone who has had skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, including touching or coming into contact with the monkeypox rash, or who has shared items such as towels and bedding.
Newton’s school system said on Tuesday that maintenance workers would clean and disinfect classrooms and other areas at both elementary schools.
As the school year began, health experts said parents shouldn’t expect to be notified by their school when cases of monkey pox occur among school staff or students. Like other reportable illnesses, health care providers must report cases of monkeypox to DPH, but the Department of Education has no authority to require schools to report cases, a DOE spokesperson said.
Earlier this month, as students returned to school, Clayton County Schools told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that an employee contracted the virus over the summer but had never interacted with students or teachers.
Health experts say that based on the data we have so far, the risk of monkey pox spreading in a school setting appears to be a “very low risk.” But that doesn’t mean the risk is zero.
dr. Jayne Morgan, executive director of the COVID Task Force in Piedmont, said in a recent interview that families should practice good hand hygiene – washing hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds. She said rigorous clean-up measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic are helping to prevent the spread of monkeypox.
And for children living with adults in high-risk groups for monkeypox, “Encourage that person to get vaccinated against monkeypox. That’s the #1 thing the person can do to protect themselves and other people in the household.”
While nearly all cases to date have involved men who have sex with men, health authorities emphasize that anyone can get monkey pox, according to the CDC. Health officials also say the virus could spread more widely.
The monkeypox virus is much less transmissible than the coronavirus because it is mainly spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Touching objects that have previously touched the contagious rash or bodily fluids is a one-way spread of monkeypox, but DPH said in a statement that has not been identified as a meaningful or common mode of transmission in this outbreak or for monkeypox in general.
Anyone who thinks they have monkey pox is advised to avoid close contact with others, especially children. If contact is unavoidable, such as at childcare, the GGD recommends that caring family members wear face masks and gloves.