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Classroom COVID-19 outbreaks rising in Montgomery County Schools

Authorities are urging families to consider boosting children with the latest vaccine dose, as cases start to rise.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Classroom outbreaks of COVID-19 are on the rise in Montgomery County Schools, according to a new advisory to parents, and health officials have an ask of parents. 

The county's public health emergency preparedness director is calling on parents to get their kids and other family members boosted with the latest versions of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Last week, we saw an increase in classroom outbreaks of COVID-19," Dr. Patricia Kapunan, the MCPS medical officer, wrote in a letter to families. 

Kapunan did not say what schools have been impacted by classroom outbreaks and what learning disruptions, if any, they may have caused. The letter urges families to take precautions, continue vaccinations and boosters for kids and adults, and prepare for the upcoming flu season.

"We are already seeing cases of influenza in the United States," she wrote. "Experts predict more cases of flu compared to last year."

She added that vaccination is still the most effective tool for preventing serious complications, hospitalization or death due to COVID-19.  Kapunan also appealed to families to test any students that shows symptoms of COVID-19 and report any positive result to school authorities.

Sean ODonnell, Montgomery County's public health emergency preparedness officer, urged families to vaccinate for both COVID-19 and the flu.

"For those five and up, they're welcome to get their first and second doses if they still need those," Odonnell said. "If it's been at least two months since those doses they can now get a booster. We currently have that for Moderna and we are waiting on our order to be filled since it's a new formulation for Pfizer."

O’Donnell pointed out that Montgomery County’s COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization rates are low, but there is anxiety that the upcoming flu season could complicate matters.

"Traditionally it takes a week or so before you start to really get the full benefits of the booster," he said. "So please don't wait to the last minute to get to get this booster before you go to family gatherings. It's a good idea to get it now." 

County schools continue to run free vaccination clinics weekly. Masks are currently optional in Montgomery County Schools.

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