Almost 70 Palm Desert High School students who haven't been fully immunized for measles are banned from classes for the next two weeks. Meanwhile, the classmate who may have exposed them to the highly contagious virus is being allowed to return.
Sixty-six students were released from classes Wednesday afternoon and won't be allowed to return until Feb. 9 -- or when they are medically cleared or provide proof of immunization or resistance to the virus, said Mary Perry, spokeswoman for the Desert Sands Unified School District. But that clearance will be determined by the Riverside County Public Health Department.
District officials are hoping the move will protect staff and other students from exposure to measles, she said.
The district's decision came after it received notice that a student may have been infected with measles. Though the measles case was not confirmed, the student was medically cleared by the Riverside County Public Health Department to return to school.
The district then called and sent letters to parents of the 66 students notifying them of the district's decision.
The latest school district action comes as districts throughout the state step up efforts to protect students from the measles outbreak.
Cal State Long Beach confirmed Wednesday that a student with measles had exposed 20 students to the virus in an off-campus field trip during winter break, which started Jan. 12.
In Huntington Beach, school officials asked two dozen students without proof of immunization to stay home for 21 days after a classmate with measles attended school.
Santa Monica High School students and parents were put on notice after a freshman baseball coach was diagnosed with measles. The school district investigated and determined that students weren't at risk.
Measles symptoms include a cough, red eyes, full-body rash, runny nose and a fever as high as 105. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia and death.
Children too young to be vaccinated are particularly at risk of developing symptoms.
There are at least 95 confirmed measles cases in seven states and Mexico, which all began in California after several people were exposed to the virus while visiting Disneyland Resort between Dec. 17 and 20.