DHEC updates COVID-19 guidance for schools

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control updated its coronavirus guidance for K-12 schools in response to the latest virus data and trends. Additionally, guidance for quarantine and isolation periods in child care settings was also updated. DHEC says the goal of the changes made is to keep as many kids in school as possible while also ensuring safety for those in the building.

Click here to see the full guidance from DHEC.

Of the notable changes, officials say the quarantine period for close contacts is shortened to five days, under the following conditions:

  • Show no symptoms
  • Test negative on PCR or antigen test on fourth day after exposure or later
  • Wear a mask for 10 days after exposure unless they are eating, drinking or at least six feet away from others while outdoors

DHEC outlined two additional quarantine options available. When necessary, DHEC says schools can temporarily use a 10 day quarantine period for close contacts, with no testing required after this time if the person has no symptoms. The other option is for schools to implement the Test to Stay program, and avoiding some if not all quarantining.

“We know there are obvious concerns about decreasing the number of recommended quarantine and isolation days during a time when cases are spiking,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “But we are confident this guidance provides the best opportunity to keep students and teachers in the classroom without increasing exposure. The latest data and science show that these recommendations provide adequate timeframes to recover from COVID-19 and not spread the virus, with strong caveats based on consistent masking and lack of symptoms.”

DHEC says a student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 can return to school after five days after they first experienced symptoms if they do not have a fever and their other symptoms improve significantly. If they do return, DHEC says they must wear a mask until 10 days after they started exhibiting symptoms.

Officials with DHEC also support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for adults who got their coronavirus vaccine from Moderna to get their booster shots five months after their last vaccine.

Finally, DHEC encourages all eligible South Carolinians to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated against COVID-19. You can find a vaccination site near you by going to DHEC’s vaccine locator or call 1-866-365-8110.


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