CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental officials are providing updated guidance to schools and child care centers to help with the transition from Test to Stay and quarantine to learn, work and live with COVID-19 with minimal disruption.
State health officials say the new guidance comes as the impact of coronavirus continues to decline.
According to DHEC, after historic highs in case counts at the top of the year, numbers have been on a steady decline in recent weeks.
“For example, in the week of January 22, we saw 104,707 cases, followed by 64,298 cases in the week of January 29, 34,963 cases in the week of February 5 and 19,788 cases in the week of February 12,” according to state health officials. .
DHEC says the guidelines are similar, but not identical, to their pre-COVID-19 guidelines for influenza.
“As part of our restructuring planning efforts, our overriding Exclusion list for school and childcare now reflects this guidance update. Below are the highlights of the guide: ”
- The guide applies to individual schools, not entire school districts and children’s institutions.
- Schools and childcare centers may suspend Test to Stay or quarantine when they have had two consecutive weeks, with less than 10 percent of all students and staff having COVID-19.
- Once Test to Stay or quarantine is stopped, contact detection and testing and masking of close contacts without symptoms are no longer required
- The first two-week period ends on February 28, 2022
- Based on data from Week 1 (week of February 21), and if the trend of low cases continues, DHEC expects that most schools and childcare centers will have the option of suspending Test to Stay or quarantine on March 1, 2022.
- Schools will continue to report the number of cases to DHEC on a weekly basis.
- If a school or child care center has suspended Test to Stay or quarantine and has two consecutive weeks with 10 percent or more of all students and staff having COVID-19, either Test to Stay or Quarantine must be reinstated.
- The isolation requirements for those with COVID-19 remain unchanged.
“DHEC recognizes that our state’s two-year response to this virus has had a significant impact on our families, children, and educators,” said DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer. “Our updated guidance recognizes that COVID-19 is a disease that we must now treat and manage as endemic, and will help our schools, childcare centers and ultimately all of us to make this transition. At the same time, it also allows us to to react quickly in the event of another increase or effect. “
According to DHEC, vaccination remains the most effective way to control COVID-19.
“Anyone can help keep COVID-19 cases down by getting vaccinated and boosted, parents considering vaccination for their children, wearing masks indoors around others, and limiting large personal gatherings with those you do not live with,” DHEC said. officials.
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