PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new worry has arisen for parents as a new school year approaches — monkeypox.
At least one child in Oregon has been infected, and as kids prepare to head back to the classroom, many schools in the area don’t have a defined response plan.
Multnomah County’s deputy health officer Dr. Ann Loeffler says parents should be watching out for signs like rashes on kids, as well as a cough and sore throat. She also says parents should keep kids home if they’re sick and that, unlike COVID, which can spread in the air, monkeypox spreads from skin-to-skin contact.
“Parents shouldn’t be specifically concerned about monkeypox, they should be watchful of their kids having rashes, fever, illnesses and being in circumstances where kids would come in skin-to-skin contact like certain sports, but, it’s very low risk in children right now,” Loeffler said.
When asked about whether there’s a plan in place for schools in Oregon in a press conference last week, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said he didn’t think they didn’t put measures in place to slow the spread, but schools should do routine cleaning. He also echoed Loeffler’s sentiments, encouraging parents to keep kids home if they’re not feeling well.
Portland Public Schools say they “will continue to ask students and staff to seek testing and care when they are sick, report any communicable disease to their school and stay at home to prevent the spread.”
“The health and safety of PPS students is our utmost priority. We will regularly consult with Multnomah County Public Health and the Oregon Health Authority, and will align our safety procedures accordingly,” said a PPS representative.
As far as local colleges, Portland State University and Washington State University were the only universities that responded to an inquiry from KOIN 6 News about their plans regarding monkeypox. PSU said they’re educating on-campus health providers about prevention and treatment.
WSU, which has an additional campus in Vancouver, launched a monkeypox web page for students, faculty, and staff that provides information on signs and symptoms of infection, how monkeypox is spread, and how it is treated.
“Our Environmental Health and Safety team has also developed a monkeypox disinfection plan for each of our campuses. The environmental health team is also preparing an isolation plan for students who live on the Pullman campus and may become infected,” said a representative from WSU.