Narberth, Pennsylvania — A suburb of Philadelphia has seen an alarming coronavirus outbreak among children and several fully vaccinated adults. Eight second-graders and two fully vaccinated family members from Penn Valley Elementary School are in quarantine after testing positive for— all are connected to a single classroom.
“Since we’ve been open in September, this is the first time we saw this many cases in a single classroom,” said Amy Buckman, the director of school and community relations for the Lower Merion School District.
Investigators are looking at whether a variant may be to blame. They are also focusing on a classroom vent that was partially closed.
“Makes me worry a little bit about just the general parameters of what exactly if three feet and the circulation is enough,” said Sarah Gallo, a Penn Valley school parent.
The school district will be offering Pfizer vaccines to any students 16 and older at school beginning next Monday.
Children account for more than one in five new COVID-19 cases nationwide, down slightly week over week, but there are concerns the pandemic will linger until children can be vaccinated as variants continue to spread across the U.S.
“It’s always concerning to see this many cases, because even at a very tiny percentage, thousands of children are being infected. Some of them are going to land in the hospital,” said Dr. Charles Schleien, the chair of pediatric services at Northwell Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines for opening summer camps after many were shut down completely last year.
Day campers must stay at least three feet away from each other and be masked, except when swimming, eating, drinking, or napping. Overnight camps should ask everyone, including campers, to be fully vaccinated, if eligible, or to self-quarantine two weeks ahead of arrival and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
“What I tell parents is these are the facts, you need to make your own decision,” Schleien said.