Richland Two working to dispel rumors of COVID-19 outbreak at elementary school

Richland Two working to dispel rumors of COVID-19 outbreak at elementary school

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland Two district leaders are working to dispel rumors about reports of multiple COVID-19 cases at Windsor Elementary School. The district says only two staff members have tested positive for the virus, and no students have COVID-19.

Richland Two lead nurse Dawn MacAdams isn’t sure why the rumors started, but she says there could be some confusion between people testing positive for COVID-19 and people being quarantined because of close contact.

While two staff members at Windsor have tested positive, the district had to place eight other staff members on quarantine who were determined to be close contacts. That means they were closer than six feet of the person who tested positive for longer than 15 minutes. Those close contacts must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of receiving a negative test result because of the incubation period for COVID-19.

If your child’s teacher or classmate is out on quarantine as a close contact and has not tested positive for the virus, DHEC guidelines do not advise the school to notify you. “If you do not hear directly from your school nurse with a phone call that your child was a close contact of someone testing positive for the virus, and this is what you need to do,” said MacAdams. “We’re also going to follow that call up with a letter. If you do not get that phone call and that letter, you do not have to be concerned about your child needing to quarantine.”

MacAdams says you would be notified if your child was in the classroom with a child that tests positive for the virus, even if they are not a close contact. But the district cannot tell you who your child came in close contact with. “It makes people angry when I won’t tell them who they are in close contact with, but that’s standard procedure in any public health illness,” MacAdams explained.

Richland Two announced Monday that November 23rd and 24th will now be E-learning days for students. “Part of that decision that Dr. Davis and administrative staff made had to do with the number of people we have had to put into quarantine as a close contact, and those numbers have been very high the past two weeks,” MacAdams explained. “The nurses are spending many hours in the evenings, staying late at school and working on the weekends doing contact tracing.”

The district says keeping students virtual on Monday and Tuesday gives school nurses four to five full days to catch up on contact tracing and notify families before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Richland Two is also making changes to its online COVID-19 dashboard. Right now, it only lists the number of active COVID-19 cases, but MacAdams says they are changing it to also reflect the number of people in quarantine. “We hope by including the quarantine information that will help ease fears a little bit,” she noted. “We are doing everything we can do.”

The district sent this statement to parents Monday evening:

"Unfortunately false reports of numerous positive cases of COVID-19 among teachers and students at Windsor Elementary are circulating on social media. As of today, November 16, 2020, there are two known positive cases (one reported last week on the district’s COVID-19 Dashboard and one that was reported over the weekend). Those individuals are isolating at their homes. There are no reported cases among students. Eight individuals were identified as close contacts. These individuals are quarantining at their homes for 14 days. These procedures are based on the guidance provided to schools from S.C. DHEC. Click here to review the S.C. DHEC information.

"Richland Two Schools will continue to share information with our families and community, taking great care to ensure individuals aren’t readily identifiable while providing transparent communication to the fullest extent possible. The dashboard explains the notification procedure and was last updated on Thursday, November 12. View it here. The dashboard is updated on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Thank you for helping us to dispel these rumors.”

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