CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – As more kids return to face-to-face instruction, doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina say you can look at the Charleston County School District as an example of how well mitigation measures work.
“I was actually very nervous about starting school in the fall, because we really didn’t know what was going to happen,” said MUSC Pediatric infectious disease specialist, Dr. Allison Eckard.
Dr. Eckard is part of the team that helped businesses and schools reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. She says, the air filtration upgrades, plexiglass dividers, masks, and hygiene measures are keeping kids and teachers from spreading the virus at school.
However, there are cases still prevalent in the district. According to the CCSD COVID Dashboard, more than 1,400 cases have been reported among the 34,000 students going face-to-face and the hundreds of teachers and staff. Eckard says it’s not being passed around at school. In fact, she says there have only been two probable instances.
She is investigating a handful of other possible in-school transmissions, but she says so far, they all have apparent out of school contact as well.
“What we can see is that even though there are cases in the schools, there are very few transmissions,” said Eckard. “Meaning one person will be positive in the classroom but there’s nobody else in the classroom who ever ends up being positive and so we do think that it is a fairly safe environment.”
Neither Berkeley nor Dorchester District 2 can track in-school transmissions, but a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released this week shows the numbers in CCSD are the rule, not the exception.
The biggest hurdle for every district is what students and teachers are doing when they are not in the buildings.
“People make good decisions during school and then go out and play contact sports without masks, or they carpool, or they have sleepovers and parties, and that is really what is driving infections in schools,” Eckard said.