COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC) announced on Wednesday a plan to update online COVID-19 reporting to include students and school staffers.
They believe the data will help parents, caregivers, and school officials navigate virus cases in schools across the state.
With the help of the S.C. Department of Education, DHEC releases weekly reports for schools that record the amount of quarantined and isolated students and staff, due to COVID-19, in the previous week.
Beginning Wednesday, DHEC’s school case reporting will be replaced with new weekly reports for K-12 public, private, and charter schools including numbers collected directly from schools in South Carolina. The number of students and staff who test positive or are close contacts will be included in the new reports.
“We appreciate the ongoing support and dedication of our school officials, teachers and school employees around the state during these challenging, stressful and emotional times,” says Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “We know that school officials consider many factors when they make decisions about classroom instruction, and we hope that including quarantine and isolation numbers in our statewide school reporting will provide an additional data set for informing school officials, as well as students, parents and caregivers, about the current status of COVID-19’s effect on our schools.”
DHEC’s online dashboard will now be updated once a week, every Wednesday, and will also include cumulative numbers of quarantined and isolated individuals since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.
The agency said it will send out new quarantine and isolation surveys to schools at 7 A.M. on Fridays, and schools are expected to report that information back to DHEC by Tuesday at noon for updated numbers to show on the agency’s dashboard on Wednesday. An “NR” designation means that a school did not report its information on time.
“As we work with all charter, public and private schools in the state to implement this new weekly reporting tool, the isolation, and quarantine information may be incomplete initially, since the information is coming directly from our state’s schools,” says Dr. Traxler. “If your school’s data isn’t included in our DHEC reporting, please reach out and encourage your school to participate in this important public health effort.”
DHEC cannot determine whether or not a school should operate in-person or virtually, however, the agency’s regional epidemiology teams provide the best current guidelines and information so schools can make the best decisions possible.
“DHEC continues to urge all eligible South Carolina residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” they said.
DHEC’s 2021-2022 interim school guidance is available to view.