Monkeypox Information

As the school year begins, we recognize the concern in our community about how monkeypox could impact students, their families, staff, and teachers. We want to provide you with information to address this and to establish precautions APS will implement to promote the health and safety of our community.

According to the CDC, the risk of monkeypox to children and adolescents is low at this time. The risk of monkeypox transmission in school settings is also currently low.  However, anyone- including children- can be infected if they have close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox.

To date, monkeypox has been rare in children nationwide, and in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Monkeypox website provides the most current information on reported cases in Arlington and the rest of Virginia.

More information on monkeypox is available on the Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) website in English, Spanish, Amharic, and Arabic.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. According to the CDC and ACPHD, monkeypox causes a rash and is contagious from the time symptoms begin until the rash has fully healed.  The disease spreads through close contact, predominantly through direct skin-to-skin contact. Monkeypox can spread through:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash or scabs
  • Intimate physical contact, including kissing, cuddling, and sexual contact
  • Sharing a bed, towels, clothes, or other items that have been used by someone with monkeypox and have not been washed
  • Body fluids from a person with monkeypox, including respiratory droplets from prolonged face-to-face contact

Monkeypox Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters.
    • Rash may appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals
    • The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The rash progresses from red bumps to fluid filled sores. A new layer of skin will form when the rash is fully healed.

Typically, illness last 2-4 weeks.  Some people experience a rash followed by other symptoms, while others only experience a rash.  Monkeypox is rarely fatal.  Symptoms appear 3-17 days after exposure. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

Individual Prevention

Per CDC recommendations and recommendations from ACPHD, we encourage our community to prevent the spread of monkeypox by engaging in the following steps:

  1. Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  1. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person who has monkeypox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox. Wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves and disposable clothing
  1. Wash your hands often, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, after contact with a sick person, and before and after touching open wounds and bandages
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  1. Avoid sharing equipment (like athletic equipment or musical instruments), as well as supplies, costumes, or uniforms
    • Wash uniforms or costumes after each use. Clean individual equipment and musical instruments after use.
  1. At this time, the CDC recommends vaccinations only for people who have been exposed to monkeypox as well as those who are more likely to contract monkeypox. The eligibility criteria may change as the outbreak evolves and based on vaccine supply. For the most current criteria, visit VDH’s website.
    • Vaccination appointments are available in Arlington for eligible individuals on the ACPHD website.

APS Response Protocol

APS will work in collaboration with the ACPHD to implement response measures for monkeypox. We are following guidance from ACPHD’s communicable disease experts to ensure preventive measures are in place throughout the school year. APS will continue to follow everyday procedures that aim to limit transmission of infectious diseases, including frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces, keeping students, staff, and volunteers home when sick, ensuring access to handwashing supplies, maintaining routine disinfection practices, and requiring the use of personal protective equipment for school clinic staff providing care to ill children.

If someone in APS becomes infected with monkeypox, the following additional measures will be put in place:

  • Cleaning the affected classroom(s): Surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected, focusing on surfaces that come into direct skin contact such as doors, desks, chairs, and classroom supplies. Items that cannot be appropriately disinfected, cleaned or laundered will be discarded. Personal protective equipment, including gloves, is to be worn while cleaning affected surfaces.
  • Contact tracing: APS will support ACPHD to identify individuals who might have been exposed if a student or staff member is infected and to provide close contacts with detailed guidance
  • Provide support to affected families/staff on isolation guidance and seeking healthcare
  • Provide additional information to families and community members about preventing the spread of monkeypox
  • Support the affected student(s) with appropriate instructional materials while the student remains out of school
  • Have affected individuals return to school after rash has fully healed, based on: 1) healthcare provider evaluation, 2) completion of treatment provided by the healthcare provider, and/or 3) completion of the infectious period at home

Additional Guidance for Families

Children with a rash should stay home from school and be evaluated by a healthcare provider. This is true for all rash illnesses. Rash illnesses such as hand, foot and mouth disease and chickenpox are much more likely to affect children than monkeypox.If you or your student have new or unexplained rash or symptoms consistent with monkeypox, seek medical care from your healthcare provider.  Keep the rash covered until a health care provider can evaluate the rash.  If your child has a known exposure to monkeypox:

  • If your student is exposed to monkeypox at home or elsewhere, let your school know, and reach out to your medical provider, so that you and your child’s school can take necessary precautions to care for your child
  • ACPHD will provide specific guidance on what to do if an exposure occurs. It will not always be necessary for your student to quarantine, even if they are a close contact of someone with monkeypox. If your student is identified as a close contact, someone from ACPHD will contact you and provide guidance on what to do next, including what symptoms to look for that require medical attention.

These CDC resources provide additional information about monkeypox for students and families to stay informed:

APS will continue to consult with ACPHD to monitor monkeypox in Arlington and to provide updates to the community.