This school in the Gulf region is returning its masked mandate after the rise of the corona virus

A Gulf Elementary School has returned its mask mandate after reporting a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases.

Since March 22, Coleman Elementary School in San Rafael has approved more than 23 cases in total of the corona virus across the school – 17 in students and six in staff – the county said. In response, the school informed families that it would return the inner mask mandate by April 15th.

Marin County schools complied with state guidelines that allowed for the lifting of seats for internal masks on March 12, although face-covering was still highly recommended.

“This was not a time for warning, but for us to implement the recommended public health strategies to respond to the increase in cases and reduce the risk of infection,” said Christina Perino, a spokeswoman for schools in the city of San Rafael. “Our community has shown patience and support as we continue to make decisions for the interests of our entire Coleman community.”

In recent days, the number of new cases has also dropped significantly, Perino said. At this point, Coleman Elementary seems to be the only school in the county to return the mask mandate, but infectious disease experts in the Gulf region say that later, similar setbacks may occur in other schools, in other counties.

“This is to be expected,” said Dr. John Schwarzberg, an infectious disease specialist at UC Berkeley University, referring to the increase. Not that there’s no virus here. “

Schwarzberg and other infectious disease experts said individual schools are more likely to choose to return mask seats compared to counties, which will likely make that decision only if the number of COVID-19 cases starts to rise rapidly both across the county and within their counties. big.

Nearly three weeks have passed since school districts in the Gulf region revoked their mandates for face masks, and the number of cases is quite low. Still, it’s not clear how the arrival of the new BA.2 sub-version of omicron – which experts say can be transferred between 30% and 80% more – will take place in the Gulf region.

BA.2 now accounts for about half of the cases in the country and 60% of corona cases in the western region, according to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is definitely a repeat of what’s going to happen once BA.2 becomes more prominent and the spring break continues to provoke incidents,” said UCSF Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Peter Qin-Hong. “Again, most people are not worried about the ability. “We are in the hospital, but we are concerned about the disturbances in the community.”

Bay Area experts have noted that while the school is back to using one of our most powerful risk reduction tools – masking – it may not make much of a difference if the rest of the community does not disguise itself.

“The mandates of personal masks in schools when the rest of the community does not (mask) do not necessarily make sense,” Qin-Hong said. “It’s porous.”

However, one still has to look at that particular spike for what it is: one particular spike, Schwarzberg said.

Perino said the county is unaware of other schools in Marin County that have returned the internal masking requirement, and that the county as a whole has seen a very minimal, if any, number of cases.

“The county has not given us any guidelines regarding the return of the mask requirement to all schools in the city of San Rafael, nor do we expect to do so in the near future, given our low number of cases in all of our other schools,” Perino added.

Mike Grant, director of the Marin County Department of Education, said all of the county’s schools seem to be doing well.

“There has been no alarming increase in the number of cases, and some students and staff continue to wear masks,” Grant said, adding that with the spring break in a day, students and staff were given optional quick tests to pass. Return.

Annie Weinstein (she / she) is the author of the San Francisco Chronicle team. Email: avainshtein@sfchronicle.com

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