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DHEC updates COVID guidance for schools, 5-day quarantine OK’d under new conditions

The updated guidance states that a close contact may shorten quarantine to five days under...
The updated guidance states that a close contact may shorten quarantine to five days under certain conditions.(WLBT)
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 2:50 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control updated its COVID-19 guidelines for K-12 schools to reflect the latest data and trends.

The guidance complements the DHEC school and childcare exclusion list. This outlines exclusion requirements for schools and child care settings for communicable diseases.

The updated guidance states that a close contact may shorten quarantine to five days under the following conditions:

  • they have no symptoms
  • they test negative on a PCR or antigen test on Day four or later after exposure
  • they must wear a mask through Day 10 at all times excluding eating or drinking or when outdoors and more than six feet from others

Schools have two additional options for quarantine:

  • They may temporarily use a 10-day quarantine period and it may end without testing negative if the individual isn’t experiencing symptoms.
  • Schools can implement a Test To Stay program, that can avoid quarantining in many cases, though this will solely depend on the availability of rapid test kits.

“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 continues to encourage COVID-19 vaccines for ages five and up and booster shots for all who are eligible.

To find a vaccination site near you visit the vaccine locator or call the Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.

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