Health officials report close to 4,000 COVID-19 cases among students, staff at SC schools

Coronavirus

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), there are 3,897 cases of COVID-19 reported among South Carolina students and school staff.

They have been tracking cases in public and private schools since September.

Their data shows, as of this week, 2,738 students and 1,159 teachers or staff have tested positive for COVID-19. DHEC said the data only includes students and staff who spend time regularly on a campus.

Health officials said just because they report a positive COVID-19 case, it doesn’t necessarily mean the student or teacher caught the virus at school.

South Carolina Education Association President Sherry East said when schools started face-to-face instruction in the fall, some of their members were nervous COVID-19 would spread rapidly through schools.

According to DHEC, most schools are reporting fewer than 5 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff. East said, “I think everybody is settling in to what this would look like and parents are getting used to the schedules.”

Data from DHEC shows high schools in South Carolina more likely to have more cases among students compared to middle and elementary schools. East said, “Almost 4,000 cases seems a little low to be honest. I would’ve thought there was going to be a little more spread than that. Maybe this is due to us doing it right.”

East said teachers and staff are doing their best to practice social distancing and follow quarantine procedures.

She also said as cases continue to climb across the country and state, members are nervous about districts moving forward with five-day in-person instruction plans at this moment in time. “Your numbers are the highest they’ve ever been. They’re higher than they were in March. We have people asking why are they doing this?”

South Carolina schools will be receiving COVID-19 testing kits for students and staff as soon as next week. Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order directing DHEC to deliver more than 200,000 rapid tests to school districts.

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