Horry County Schools clarifies quarantine scenarios; parents want more information

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County Schools (HCS) is now providing parents with clearer quarantine scenarios for students.

With changing guidelines and recommendations, some parents were left confused. The district released new information Thursday, outlining quarantine scenarios for COVID-positive students and any close contacts.

Lisa Bourcier, Horry County Schools director of strategic communications, said the new information aims to clarify confusion surrounding student quarantines and also address why some students’ quarantines are different from others.

Bourcier said the district is constantly evaluating and updating procedure based on guidance from state health officials.

“There have been several changes, especially this coming school year versus last year regarding quarantine requirements by DHEC, and they seem to be changing a lot, often, and very quickly, and we try to stay on top of it,” Bourcier said. “So the scenarios do change and there’s a lot more than what we went through last year.”

Bourcier said DHEC recently changed its definition of close contacts, meaning HCS would have to make changes as well. For students, close contact now means exposure within three to six feet an infected person for 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour span. Things like vaccination status and mask use can make a difference for student quarantines after identification of close contact.

As of Thursday evening, Horry County Schools reports 658 student cases of COVID-19. That represents an increase of 119 over Wednesday. The district does not report the number of students in quarantine.

For every student case of COVID-19, Horry County Schools said staff works with the student, teachers and parents to identify any and all close contacts. One COVID-positive student could be up to a day’s worth of contact tracing.

“We are using all hands on deck when it comes to contact tracing,” Bourcier said.

Horry County Schools notifies the parents of all close contacts. The district does not notify parents of children who have not been identified as close contacts.

Bourcier said the priority for the district is proper contact tracing and that parents can trust it is working to keep kids safe in schools.

“We know that parents are interested in wanting to know the pulse of their school, maybe even their individual classroom, but close contacts and making sure those kids know they have to quarantine and don’t come back into school so we’re not reinfecting other students and staff members that’s what’s important right now,” Bourcier said.

Angela Hursey’s son attends Loris Middle School. Hursey wants HCS to be more upfront with parents. She said more information does not hurt, as it would give her more of a heads up.

“I feel like I should be at least notified that there’s a child in quarantine or there’s a child that’s been diagnosed, so that I can watch for symptoms,” Hursey said. “Not that I’m not watching for them already, but so I can pay closer attention.”

Misti Jordan has a son in the seventh grade at Ten Oaks Middle School. She said she relies on him to keep her updated on COVID-19 cases and quarantines inside the school and that more updates should be coming from the district.

“This past week he noticed two children who are not in his classrooms that were taken out,” Jordan said. “As a parent, that leaves you a little bit like…’Why? Why aren’t they there?’ And it’s none of my business, but it is my business.”

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