CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – As in-person classes resumed this week following winter break, the surge in COVID-19 cases left hundreds of students and teachers in quarantine.

But experts agree to keeping schools open, if possible, as long as everyone takes the necessary precautions.

Over 900 students and staff across three Lowcountry school districts were out this week with COVID-19, as the Omicron variant surge continues.

“It seems like the variant that is around and far more prevalent now,” Kenneth Perry, MD, an assistant medical director at Trident Medical, said.

As of January 5, Berkeley County reported 373 positive student and staff cases. Charleston County reported 219 positive cases, and DD2 reported 305 positive cases.

Despite the high transmission rates, keeping children in school is a top priority. 

“We’re encouraging parents to talk with their pediatricians to have their children vaccinated,” state superintendent Molly Spearman said. “For staff to be vaccinated. All the things that we continue to talk about are just as important today as they were a year ago.”

Perry says that vaccines, and good hygiene, remain the best weapons against the virus. 

“The things that we can do for the current variant are the same thing that we’ve been discussing right from the beginning,” he sai. “Really, you should make sure that your child is getting vaccinated, if possible. And really doing all that’s necessary based off the risks characteristics, or risk features, depending on your child’s health.”

Dr. Linda Bell, the state’s epidemiologist, agrees. She says although we can’t predict what the virus will do, it’s up to us to help suppress the surge. “We could force an earlier decline in this surge if our vaccination uptake improved more quickly,” Bell said.