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DHEC issues new COVID-19 guidance for schools, daycares

File photo of students in school.
File photo of students in school.(wdbj7)
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 2:43 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has released new guidance for schools and daycares in order to transition from Test to Stay (TST) and quarantine to learning without disruptions from COVID-19.

“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 an illness that we now need to treat and manage as endemic, and will help our schools, childcare centers, and ultimately all of us make that transition. At the same time, it also allows us to respond quickly should another surge or impactful new variant arise.”

The guidance is similar to the pre-COVID-19 flu protocol issued by DHEC.

Here are the highlights:

  • The guidance applies to individual schools, not entire school districts and childcare centers.
  • Schools and childcare centers may suspend Test to Stay or quarantine once they have had two consecutive weeks with less than 10 percent of all students and staff having COVID-19.
    When Test to Stay or quarantine has stopped,
    contact tracing and testing and masking of close contacts without symptoms is no longer required
  • The first two-week period ends Feb. 28, 2022
    Based on week-one data (week of Feb. 21) and if the trend of low cases continues, DHEC anticipates that most schools and childcare centers will have the option to suspend 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 childcare center that 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 will need to be reinstated.
  • Isolation requirements for those who have COVID-19 will remain unchanged.

For more on the updated guidance, click here.

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