DHEC updates COVID-19 guidance for schools

Coronavirus

Boys and girls sitting at desks, raising hands (Getty Images).

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Sunday updated COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools and childcare settings to align with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new guidance shortens isolation and quarantine periods for confirmed and possible COVID-19 cases.

Students and staff members that test positive may now return to class five days after symptom onset “as long as they have no fever and their other symptoms are significantly improving, and they must wear a mask through Day 10.”

Close contacts may reduce quarantine time to five days, given the following conditions are met:

  • They have no symptoms.
  • They test negative on a viral (PCR or antigen) test on Day 4 or later after the exposure.
  • They must wear a mask through Day 10 at all times except when eating or drinking, or when outdoors and more than six feet from others.

Those who are unable to or would prefer not to test during quarantine may return after a 10-day period as long as they are not symptomatic.

Schools may also opt to implement a “test to stay” program, which “combines contact tracing and serial testing (testing that is repeated at least twice during a seven-day period after last close contact with a person with COVID-19) to allow some students, teachers and staff who should quarantine to continue in-person learning.” This program would also require well-fitting masks be worn by participating students.

DHEC Public Health Director, Dr. Brannon Traxler, said that the agency is “confident this guidance provides the best opportunity to keep students and teachers in the classroom without increasing exposure.”

The agency encourages anyone ages five and above to get vaccinated and boosted, if eligible.

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