Santa Fe Public Schools says an entire first grade class of about 20 kids at Acequia Madre Elementary School was quarantined for 10 days after half of them — and their teacher — tested positive for the coronavirus.

Some parents of infected children believe the teacher, who tested positive Oct. 27, was a key source of the spread, but they can’t be sure because school officials won’t tell them whether the teacher was vaccinated due to the district’s privacy policy.

The Acequia Madre teacher tested positive the day after quitting, said Cody Dynarski, a spokesman for the district, adding the resignation was unrelated to the COVID-19 cases.

Katy Gross, whose son was one of the 10 infected children, said teachers should be required to be vaccinated, and she believes it is “irresponsible” to have no such mandate, especially amid a surge in the faster-spreading delta variant.

“People have the right to not be vaccinated but not when it puts other people’s health and lives at risk,” Gross said. “It ceases to be an individual, private medical issue when it affects the health and well-being of kids and their families.”

The children who tested positive will be OK, she said, because they’re resilient and recover quickly, but they’ve infected siblings, parents and possibly other people who are more vulnerable due to age and medical conditions.

Dynarski said principals ask all teachers whether they are immunized.

If they are unvaccinated or decline to give their status, they must receive weekly tests, he said. The district is not allowed to disclose to the public whether any staff members, including teachers, have gotten the shots, he added.

“Though school principals are aware of unvaccinated staff, this information is not shared due to the protection of the rights of our employees,” Dynarski wrote in an email.

Sarah Piltch, whose child was also infected, disagrees with the privacy policy, arguing the outbreak shows why parents should know a teacher’s vaccination status.

“If in fact this teacher was unvaccinated, we didn’t know,” Piltch said. “It does raise the question of what are the parents’ rights? Yes, there are rights to confidentiality, but do the parents have the right to know what sort of risks they’re putting their kids into?”

The infections at the elementary school occurred just before the state approved vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11.

Gross said the timing was unfortunate for her son, who tested positive several days before he was due to get his shots Tuesday. He was already quarantining for close contact, so he’ll end up missing 14 days of school, she said.

Dynarski said research indicates classroom infections typically result from kids bringing the virus to school from an outside source, and that student-to-student spread is far less common.

About 93 percent of district employees are vaccinated, Dynarski said, and spread within schools is minimal due to precautions, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and frequent hand-washing that’s encouraged among staff and students.

Students who are quarantined have access to remote tutoring, Dynarski added.

Piltch questioned how well the precautions are enforced if half of a first grade class contracted the virus. With the push to full in-person classroom learning, these precautions become more important than ever, she said.

“You rely on the protocols that they’re supposed to have in place,” Piltch said. “But I don’t know if the district has a way of making sure these protocols are being followed.”

Gross said remote tutoring is limited for children who are quarantining, and the offerings aren’t clear, compared to the full remote instruction program offered during the height of the pandemic. That’s one more reason the district should require teachers to be vaccinated to minimize the chance of outbreaks keeping children at home, she said.

It’s imperative for parents to know which teachers are unvaccinated, she added, given medical research shows those who aren’t immunized are more contagious.

“We are in the dark, and we have put all of our trust in the schools,” Gross said. “And that trust has been broken, which is really hard because I really am a big advocate for public schools.”

(14) comments

Jennifer O'Brien

So no one knows if this teacher was vaccinated but everyone is blaming the outbreak on the “unvaccinated teacher”? Furthermore did the teacher have symptoms? Did the kids? Where are these details?

Nancy Lockland

People have the choice what to put in their bodies. So now SFPS is down another teacher. SFPS employees that are not vaccinated are getting weekly tested. That is them doing their part. Everyone needs to stop trying to dictate what needs to be done.

LeRoy Sanchez


LeRoy Sanchez


Nancy Murata


David Gunter

What seems to be missing in this article is a discussion that unvaccinated children have remained such an active vector for the virus' spread and it is much more likely that the virus originated among them rather than from the teacher, from a probability standpoint.

This is why the opening up of vaccinations to children is going to be such a huge benefit going forward.

Comment deleted.
Robert Fields

No, prince, though you are right about exploiting the pandemic. Trump was all in on suppressing information about it, pretended it was a hoax, and his handling of the pandemic is now blamed for around 40% of this country’s covid deaths.

The messages aren’t mixed. The messages have actually been very consistent from the beginning. You just don’t understand the nuances and are confused by the way events unfolded. Forget everything Trump said. It’s just wrong and was meant to support his re-election bid. The information from the CDC has always been masking, vaxxing, and distancing. The masking requirement was relaxed just before a more infectious mutation hit - a mutation that CDC had warned was possible - and that is what forced masking again. Now, that same more infectious mutation is making hay as more move indoors and that is what is causing surges in our hospitals. All discussed as possibilities and all predicted. Nothing new.

If you are referring to how vaccine protection is beginning to wear off for the vaccinated, that was also known in advance that it was likely. Not all vaccines are one and done. Again, fully known if you were paying attention to reliable sources like the CDC and not unreliable sources like facebook, Fox Noise, and Joe Rogan.

There was a rush to develop vaccines but you seem oblivious to the advanced and fortuitously lucky state that mRNA vaccines were in when covid hit. And our hospitals were full, bodies were being warehoused in refrigerated trailers, and people were dropping like flies. So while the Pfizer and Modena vaccines were the first wide uses of the technology, the vaccines themselves were already on the launch pad just waiting for spike templates to replicate. That’s all the mRNA vaccines do - cause your body to make just the spikes so your body can recognize the actual virus when it sees it. Get infected with covid and your body manufactures spikes, ball, and viral payload. The vaccines are much more benign than covid. There can be very rare side effects from the vaccines too. But this is where intelligence comes into play. Do you stay the course and risk a 1-2% covid death rate, spreading covid indiscriminately, or do you get the vaccine and risk dying at a 0.0001% death rate. That’s a pretty simple choice for anyone who understands math. Doing nothing is still a decision and you get all the results of that decision. And if you are unvaccinated, the general consensus is with the delta variant as infectious as it is, you will eventually get covid.

You curse big pharma but big phama is the only entity that could have ramped up production as quickly as happened and that saved lives. When the vaccines started becoming available, we were in the winter spike from the alpha variant.

You guys with your conspiracy theories are why there is mistrust. It’s why MVP quarterbacks seek health advice from third tier podcasters, why people think vaccinated spread covid, and all the other totally bizarre stuff you guys say and do.

Death and hospitalization rates started falling fast when the vaccines hit. You would be wise to look at the numbers, prince. The people still filling ICUs and morgues are unvaccinated. After millions and millions of injections, vaccinated are surviving and not even getting sick - though some still do. An older relative of my own, fully vaccinated, caught covid and died. It happens and you probably don’t understand the concept of viral load which is what got him, and why that says very little about vaccine efficacy.

776,000 Americans are now dead from covid and those numbers continue to climb. There are governors in various states obfuscating, delaying, and otherwise hiding their covid deaths which you guys then dangerously hold up as role models for how to live with covid. Trump called covid a hoax and then nearly died from it. Fringe right refuse to mask or vaccinate and you guys use that to attack masking and vaxxing as ineffective.

You really ought to educate yourself and stop listening to the conspiracy junk.

And there is lots to know about Wuhan but lots we won’t ever know. One reason to work with the Chinese is to better know what they are doing. It sounds like covid wasn’t a bio weapon and may or may not have escaped that lab. There doesn’t seem to be conclusive evidence one way or another. Those studying the genetic sequence have concluded it wasn’t modified or weaponized. That sounds like a question for Trump since it happened well into his watch.

As an aside, we are in a new world. I was reading an article the other day that said that it didn’t matter that polio was “eradicated”. The genetic sequence is known and researchers can (and have) recreate it using benchtop instruments.

“In 2002, investigators at the State University of New York in Stony Brook used the published genetic sequence to synthesize a DNA version of poliovirus. Then they used an enzyme to convert the DNA to RNA and grew the virus in a cell-free extract. Animal tests showed that the synthesized poliovirus caused paralysis.”

Comment deleted.
Sabine Strohem

@prince: stop LYING. @editors: Prince should probably be blocked for LYING.

Robert Fields

The tragedy is that the misinformation tsunami has the anti-vax crowd thinking that vaccinated people are somehow contagious for something or other - just another conspiracy theory. Everything gets so much harder thanks to misinformation on social media.

LeRoy Sanchez


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