HARTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) – A charter school in the Pee Dee was temporarily closed after surpassing last year’s number of COVID-19 cases in just 10 days, according to the school.
“This was a self-imposed closure,” a school official told News13. “Because of the number of scholars that were required to quarantine during our first two weeks of school (55), we decided to close our own doors in order to revisit and revise our health and safety protocols, while also avoiding additional transmission.”
Having 55 quarantined individuals does not mean the school had 55 positive cases. Most were from contact tracing after 12 positive cases were reported. The school staff took those two days to extensively clean and disinfect the entire facility.
Last year, the school had 202 days of instruction in a face-to-face format with only 11 total positive COVID-19 cases, according to school officials. “This year, we surpassed those numbers in just 10 days of school.”
The school said one big difference is that families can now opt-out of wearing masks. “Scholars who have opted out of mask-wearing make up 16% of our student population and 60% of our student positive COVID-19 cases.”
The high number reflects how a small group can have a significant impact on the entire community: On Wednesday alone, two positive cases resulted in 16 additional scholars having to miss two weeks of school due to contact tracing.
In total, the school has had 12 positive cases (including two staff members) so far this year and 43 additional scholars have had to quarantine due to being identified as a close contact.
“Today we reopened after reaffirming and revising our protocols in ways that we believe will minimize transmission of COVID-19 cases that enter the building and also minimize the number of scholars required to quarantine due to contact tracing.”