HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — If a child is exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom, they won’t need to quarantine if they are wearing a mask, according to new guidance from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

The latest guidance from DHEC relaxes quarantine guidelines for students exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom. 

Previously, quarantine could only be avoided if both a close contact and infected student wore a mask. Now, only the exposed student needs to have been wearing a mask. Students also must be symptom free.

“It’s so important to keep our healthy students in school, five days a week,” said Lisa Bourcier, spokesperson for Horry County Schools.

Right now, there are about 100 positive cases among HCS students and staff and 2,000 in quarantine; a stark change from the 12,000 in quarantine when school started.

“We’ve seen a tremendous decrease in cases not only in Horry County Schools, but also in the community as a whole as well and so, those numbers are also a reflection in our school buildings as well,” Bourcier said.

The goal of the change is to keep more healthy students in the classroom and incentivize mask wearing, according to Dr. Brannon Traxler with DHEC.

“Whether or not that child needs to quarantine is no longer only dependent on someone else, but it falls on that person and their child and their responsibility to wear a mask,” Dr. Traxler said. “Especially if it means the difference of your child being able to safely stay in school for those 7 to 10 days versus having to be out.”

Traxler also said while this change is different from CDC recommendations, it fixes a “fairness” issue.”

“The federal guidance set up an unintended, unfair situation for a student who is a contact if they were properly masked, but the infected student wasn’t.”

You can look at Horry County School’s Coronavirus dashboard here.