Marlboro County School District quarantines 151 students and staff after COVID-19 outbreak at middle school

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MARLBORO CO, S.C. (WBTW) — Two staff members and 18 students at an elementary school in Marlboro County have tested positive for COVID-19, according to school officials.

Marlboro County School District has placed 151 students and staff at Blenheim Middle School of Discovery under quarantine after the positive tests, according to Principal Dionne Vance. Officials said they expect that number to go up in the coming days.

Principal Vance said two sixth graders showed up to school with COVID-19 symptoms and later tested positive. Most of the spread was due to a separate exposure in the seventh grade.

“Some of the students went to a party one Friday night and we got a call that one of the students that tested positive who hosted the party,” Vance said. She attributes the spread to Spring Break and relaxed attitudes about mask-wearing.

“We have to constantly remind students to wear their mask properly. They wear the mask over the mouth but it keeps dropping down under the nose,” Vance said, “I think that when it drops down they just forget to pull it up.” Nearly half of the school’s 330 face-to-face students are now quarantined. School nurse Stephanie Hamilton said this is an issue of behaviors at home as well as at school.

“The gatherings and stuff, they have been telling them not to do it unless they can social distance, wear their mask,” Hamilton said, “It’s hard, we all just want to go back to normal. But right now we’re just still in the middle of this thing.” The quarantine was recommended by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. During the 10- day quarantine, students are expected to continue to attend class virtually.

Vance said the school has dealt with positive cases before, but those students had not spread COVID-19 to others at the school. Superintendent Dr. Gregory McCord said it is important for all students and teachers to continue to wear masks.

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