Transmission of varicella occurs frequently in schools and households. We investigated the characteristics of varicella cases derived from within-household transmission and the modes of varicella transmission between school and household settings in Shanghai, China, from 2009 to 2018. Within-household transmission occurred in 278 households, of which 134 transmission events were between children. Sixty-one household varicella transmission events may be attributed to isolation procedures for infected students during school outbreaks, and 7.6% of school outbreaks were caused by schoolchildren cases derived from within-household transmission. The frequency of ‘school-household-school’ transmission adds an additional layer of complexity to the control of school varicella outbreaks. Administration of varicella vaccine as post-exposure prophylaxis after exposure is considered to be an effective measure to control varicella spread within households and schools.