Campobello Gramling Elementary School sent its unvaccinated students home Wednesday after an outbreak of chickenpox. In total, about 50 of the school’s 750 students were sent home.
“If 100 susceptible people were in a room, about 90 would acquire the chickenpox because it is spread through the air and by contact,” said Michelle Bushey, who is the director of infection prevention and patient safety at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System.
The school sent the unvaccinated children home as per DHEC policy.
“These are guidelines that we receive that we are required to follow from DHEC, and so the ultimate goal is for student safety,” said Sandra Williams, who is the chief communications officer for Spartanburg County District One schools.
Although three weeks may seem like a long time to be away from school, that’s how long it can take for the virus to run its course.
“If you were to be around someone with chickenpox, it would take about 10 to 21 days, that’s the range, for you to develop the symptoms,” Bushey said. “The average is about two weeks.”
The first sign of the virus is a fever, which is followed by the rash. However, those who contract the virus are contagious for several days before symptoms appear.
“You’re most contagious…the two days before the rash begins until right after the pox occur,” Bushey said.
However, all of that can be prevented with the chickenpox vaccine.
“It’s over 80 percent effective,” Bushey said.
If the Campabello Gramling students sent home get immunized, they are allowed to come back to school immediately. The only other way they’ll be let back before the 21 day period is over is if they can prove they’ve already had the chickenpox, which means they’re no longer at risk.
Williams says there is no plan in place for students sent home to make up class time.