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San Francisco Schools Have Had No COVID-19 Outbreaks Since Classes Began Last Month

Students head toward Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco in March.
Lea Suzuki
San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Students head toward Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco in March.

There have been no COVID-19 outbreaks in San Francisco schools since students and educators went back into classrooms on Aug. 16, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announcedThursday, noting that about 90% of children ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated.

An outbreak, the department said, means there are "three or more cases in non-related households in which the source of infection occurred at the school, and not another setting."

While the department reported there have been 227 COVID-19 cases — out of 52,000 students and nearly 10,000 staff — the "vast majority" of those cases are occurring outside of schools.

Overall, the department said, the numbers of pediatric COVID-19 cases in the city have remained low throughout the pandemic, even during the most recent delta variant surge.

"COVID-19 cases in children under 18 has remained less than 20% of overall cases throughout this pandemic," the department said. "The vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been in adults."

Serious forms of pediatric COVID-19 are even more rare, with less than five children hospitalized for the virus at any given time in San Francisco. There are currently no children who are hospitalized for COVID-19 in the city, the health department said.

The data in San Francisco comes as the spread of COVID-19 among children rises in the country, especially in the last month as students head back to school for in-person learning.

Nationally, a greater number of new COVID-19 cases overall are among children. From Aug. 19 to Sept. 2, there was a 10% increase in the cumulated number of COVID-19 cases among children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

The San Francisco health department also emphasized that vaccinations "are our best defense to protect children," noting most pediatric cases of COVID-19 in the city came from unvaccinated adults in a household getting the virus and spreading it to unvaccinated children.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.