Rate of COVID-19 Cases in San Francisco Schools Remains Low 3 Weeks After Students Return to Class

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Two San Francisco high school students walk to school.
Isaac Conde (left), 14, and Joshua Conde, 16, walk toward Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco. (Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

The rate of new COVID-19 infections in San Francisco schools has remained very low since students and educators came back into classrooms on Aug. 16, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced Thursday, noting that about 90% of children ages 12-17 are fully vaccinated.

While the department reports that there have been 227 COVID-19 cases — out of 52,000 students and nearly 10,000 staff — the "vast majority" of those infections were transmitted outside of schools.

The department also said district schools have had no reported outbreaks, which it defines as "three or more cases in non-related households in which the source of infection occurred at the school, and not another setting."

Overall, SFDPH 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," SFDPH said. "The vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been in adults."

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Serious forms of pediatric COVID-19 are even more rare, with fewer 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.

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The data in San Francisco come 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 cumulative number of COVID-19 cases among children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

SFDPH also emphasized that vaccinations "are our best defense to protect children," noting that most pediatric cases of COVID-19 in the city came from unvaccinated adults in households getting the virus and spreading it to unvaccinated children.

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