skip navigation , health centers and clinics , search , accessibility statement , Página en español ,
Contra Costa Health Services
contact us

Also of Interest...
Communicable Disease ,
Topics > Diseases > MRSA and Schools: Center for Disease Control Information

MRSA and Schools: Center for Disease Control Information

Should schools close because of an MRSA infection?

The decision to close a school for any communicable disease should be made by school officials in consultation with local and/or state public health officials. However, in most cases, it is not necessary to close schools because of an MRSA infection in a student. It is important to note that MRSA transmission can be prevented by simple measures such as hand hygiene and covering infections.

Should the school be closed to be cleaned or disinfected when an MRSA infection occurs?

  • Covering infections will greatly reduce the risks of surfaces becoming contaminated with MRSA. In general it is not necessary to close schools to "disinfect" them when MRSA infections occur. MRSA skin infections are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact and contact with surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection.
  • When MRSA skin infections occur, cleaning and disinfection should be performed on surfaces that are likely to contact uncovered or poorly covered infections.
  • Cleaning surfaces with detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants is effective at removing MRSA from the environment.
  • It is important to read the instruction labels on all cleaners to make sure they are used safely and appropriately.
  • Environmental cleaners and disinfectants should not be used to treat infections.
  • The EPA provides a list of EPA-registered products effective against MRSA

Should the entire school community be notified of every MRSA infection?

  • Usually, it should not be necessary to inform the entire school community about a single MRSA infection. When an MRSA infection occurs within the school population, the school nurse and school physician should determine, based on their medical judgment, whether some or all students, parents and staff should be notified. Consultation with the local public health authorities should be used to guide this decision.
  • Remember that staphylococcus (staph) bacteria, including MRSA, have been and remain a common cause of skin infections.

Should the school be notified that my child has an MRSA infection?

  • Consult with your school about its policy for notification of skin infections.

Should students with MRSA skin infections be excluded from attending school?

  • Unless directed by a physician, students with MRSA infections should not be excluded from attending school.
  • Exclusion from school should be reserved for those with wound drainage ("pus") that cannot be covered and contained with a clean, dry bandage and for those who cannot maintain good personal hygiene.
  • Students with active infections should be excluded from activities where skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur (e.g., sports) until their infections are healed.

Practical Advice for Teachers

  • If you observe children with open draining wounds or infections, refer the child to the school nurse.
  • Enforce hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers (if available) before eating and after using the bathroom.

Advice for School Health Personnel

  • Students with skin infections may need to be referred to a licensed health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. School health personnel should notify parents/guardians when possible skin infections are detected.
  • Use standard precautions (e.g., hand hygiene before and after contact, wearing gloves) when caring for nonintact skin or potential infections.
  • Use barriers such as gowns, masks and eye protection if splashing of body fluids is anticipated.

Learning More

MRSA in Healthcare Settings

MRSA in the Community

Other Resources

Questions and Answers about MRSA for School Health Professionals*, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health
MRSA Toolkit for Middle & High Schools*, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
MRSA Facts for Schools* (80k PDF, 2pp.) Connecticut Department of Public Health
Guidelines for Reducing the Spread of Staph/CAMRSA in Non-Healthcare Settings, v2* (735k PDF, 3pp.) Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Strategies for Clinical Management of MRSA in the Community: Summary of an Experts' Meeting (279k PDF, 24pp.)

Content provided by the Communicable Disease Programs of Contra Costa Public Health Division.

Contra Costa County home page