A woman receives a dose of the monkeypox vaccine last week in New Orleans. Federal health officials say while the risk to kids is low, schools can take some precautions.

A woman receives a dose of the monkeypox vaccine last week in New Orleans. Federal health officials say while the risk to kids is low, schools can take some precautions. Lan Wei/Xinhua via Getty Images

Kids Are at Low Risk for Monkeypox, but Schools Can Take Precautions, CDC Says

Schools should clean and disinfect classrooms as usual and monitor students for symptoms if they’ve been exposed.

Children and teens are at low risk for contracting monkeypox, but schools can still take steps to prepare for possible exposures or cases, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

So far, a handful of the 14,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. have been among kids under 18, a CDC official said. In other countries, monkeypox has been much less common among children than adults, too. 

In a new fact sheet, the CDC says the risk of getting monkeypox at school or in an early childhood setting is low. There’s been only one known case to date — an Illinois day care worker who tested positive for monkeypox earlier this month. All of the potentially exposed children and adults got screened, and none had tested positive as of last week, the local health department said.

Many of the precautions the CDC suggests schools take will sound familiar after two and a half years of following COVID protocols. That includes routinely cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, asking students and staff to regularly wash their hands, and providing personal protective equipment to staff who care for sick students.

Here’s what else the CDC says K-12 schools, early education providers, and after-school programs can do:

Adults and children can contract monkeypox if they have close, personal contact with an infected person. So far, most monkeypox cases have been associated with sexual contact, though it’s possible to spread the virus by touching contaminated objects or fabrics — such as toys, books, and blankets — or a surface the infected person has used.

The main monkeypox symptom to watch for is a rash that can appear on the genitals, as well as the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash may look like pimples or blisters at first and then scab over. Other signs include fever, chills, muscle aches, and other flu-like symptoms. 

But the CDC cautions that many illnesses can cause a rash and fever in children, including chickenpox, so kids who haven’t had a known exposure should be assessed by a doctor.

Schools should follow the steps they normally would to avoid the spread of illness, the CDC says. If a school does have a case of monkeypox, staff should clean and disinfect the places the infected person spent time, as well as any items or surfaces they touched. Schools should wash any linens or towels the infected person used, and throw away any items that can’t be sanitized.

There’s no test for monkeypox right now, unless a person develops a rash after being exposed. Children and teens who are exposed should be monitored for symptoms for 21 days, the CDC advises.

During that period, parents and caregivers of kids who were exposed should take their temperature daily, check their skin for new rashes, and look in their mouth for any sores or ulcers. Schools should also be prepared to watch for symptoms so they can communicate with families. School officials should ask their local or state health departments for guidance on how best to do that.

In most cases, children and staff who were exposed to an infected person don’t have to be excluded from school. “It is important to avoid stigma and fear-based exclusion of children and adolescents,” the CDC says.

Generally, contact tracing will be possible, since the virus spreads through touch and schools will know which students and staff were in a particular classroom. But in cases where contact tracing isn’t possible and there was a high degree of exposure, a health department may limit a student’s participation in school or other activities.

“The health department will consider the age of the individual and their ability to recognize or communicate symptoms, the types of interactions in the environment, and the risk of more severe disease to others in the setting,” the CDC says.

Students or staff who develop symptoms while under monitoring should isolate at home.

If a student shows signs of monkeypox at school, school staff should bring the student to a private space away from other kids, such as an office. If they’re at least 2 years old, the child should wear a well-fitting mask and a parent or caregiver should pick them up and have them checked by a doctor.

Staff who are monitoring the possibly infected student should avoid close contact, if possible, the CDC says, but still attend to the child in an age-appropriate way, such as changing their diapers or calming them down if they’re upset. The school staffer should wear a gown and gloves if close contact is needed, such as to hold the child. 

If the child has a rash, staff should try not to touch it and cover it with clothing, if possible. The staffer should also wear a KN95 mask, or other well-fitting mask, and wash their hands.

Widespread vaccination isn’t recommended for children or school staff, the CDC says, but vaccines are available for people who’ve come into close contact with a person infected with monkeypox. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the Jynneos vaccine can be recommended for children under 18 after they’ve been exposed to monkeypox.

Have questions? The CDC is hosting two webinars on Monday for early education providers from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern, and for K-12 schools from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

Kalyn Belsha is a national education reporter based in Chicago. Contact her at kbelsha@chalkbeat.org.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.